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Drug for advanced kidney cancer shrinks tumors prior to surgery
Date:2/17/2010

Chapel Hill, N.C. - More than 57,000 Americans face a diagnosis of kidney cancer each year. Now patients with advanced disease may soon have another treatment option. Physicians who conducted a pilot study at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center found that therapy before surgery with the drug sorafenib can reduce the size of large tumors and could be safely undertaken administered without adding significantly to the risks of surgery.

Their results are published in the Feb. 16, 2010 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, a UNC Lineberger physician-scientist, is the study's principal investigator. "We found that primary kidney tumors responded to this therapy, shrinking up to 40 percent prior to surgery. What this means for kidney cancer patients is that their surgery may be less extensive and, we hope, can provide a better outcome for patients because of tumor shrinkage," she says. Rathmell is an assistant professor of medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill.

At present, removal of the primary tumor (often with the kidney as well) is the standard treatment for patients with kidney cancer, whether the disease is localized to the kidney or has spread to distant sites. This broad spectrum includes patients with very large tumors that may not be ideal for surgical removal as well as patients who may benefit from early systemic interventions, but who would also benefit from removing the kidney later. This study addressed the question of whether systemic therapy, and in particular, therapy that targets the process by which tumors seek and find new blood vessels to fuel their growth, can benefit patients before they undergo surgery to remove tumors.

The study was conducted to evaluate the safety and feasibility of preoperative treatment using sorafenib (Nexavar) in 30 patients with stage two or higher kidney cancer including metastatic disease. Patients received their treatment at UNC Lineberger
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Contact: Ellen de Graffenreid
edegraff@med.unc.edu
919-962-3405
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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