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Combination Therapy Helps to Combat Myeloma
Date:8/27/2008

Adding Velcade to standard drug therapy prolonged survival, study finds

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with multiple myeloma who could not tolerate high dose chemotherapy lived longer and better by adding the drug Velcade to standard treatment, a new study found.

The finding could make multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood's plasma cells, a chronic rather than a lethal disease. And it would be particularly valuable to older patients and those with medical conditions that preclude them from receiving high doses of the standard drug therapies melphalan and prednisone, or a transplant, experts said.

"The addition of bortezomib (Velcade) resulted in significant prolongation in time to disease progression with a reduction of 52 percent in risk of progression," said lead researcher Dr. Jesus F. San Miguel, of the Hospital Universitario de Salamanca in Spain. "There was also a significant prolongation of survival, with a 40 percent reduction in the risk of death.

The two-year survival rate among patients taking Velcade with melphalan and prednisone was 82 percent, compared with 69 percent among patients not receiving Velcade, San Miguel said.

The findings are published in the Aug. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

San Miguel's team randomly assigned 682 patients with newly diagnosed myeloma to nine six-week cycles of treatment with melphalan and prednisone, or treatment with the two drugs plus Velcade. They found that the time to disease progression among patients receiving Velcade was 24 months, compared with 16.6 months among those getting melphalan and prednisone alone.

Also, 71 percent of the patients receiving Velcade had a partial response to treatment, compared to 35 percent of those receiving melphalan and prednisone alone. And complete responses to treatment were seen among 30 percent of those receiving Velcade, compared to 4 percent for th
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