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Cancer Drug Safe for Late-Stage Pelvic Disease

Vorinostat can be used with radiotherapy in palliative care, study finds

WEDNESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- It's safe to use a new oral anti-cancer drug called vorinostat with short-term palliative radiation therapy in patients with advanced pelvic cancer, according to a phase 1 study.

Palliative therapy is used to help control symptoms in patients who can't be cured.

Radiation therapy is an effective palliative treatment to control pain and bleeding in patients with advanced pelvic cancer who aren't eligible for curative radiation therapy or surgery. Vorinostat -- a type of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor -- is believed to stop tumor growth by altering the expression of several genes necessary for cancer growth.

This study included 16 patients who received either 100 milligram, 200 mg, 300 mg, or 400 mg daily doses of vorinostat three hours before pelvic palliative radiation to 30 Gy in 3 Gy daily fractions over two weeks.

Nausea, diarrhea and anorexia were the most common side effects experienced by all the patients. Biological activity of vorinostat was detected in patients who received the lowest and highest levels of the drug. Most patients had an overall decrease in tumor size six weeks after they completed the combined treatment.

"These observations show that vorinostat can be safely combined with a standard palliative radiotherapy regimen to treat advanced pelvic cancer," wrote Prof. Anne H. Ree of Norwegian Radium Hospital in Oslo and colleagues.

"This study adds to mounting evidence supporting the use of HDAC inhibition in cancer therapy. These data encourage further examination of this class of molecularly targeted agents in clinical radiotherapy," they concluded.

The study was published online April 6 in The Lancet Oncology.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on palliative care.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: The Lancet Oncology, news release, April 6, 2010

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