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Monitoring and control can limit side effects of promising cancer drugs
Date:5/11/2010

A new class of cancer drugs can be used effectively while minimizing hypertensive side effects if patients' blood pressure is closely monitored and controlled, a clinical panel has determined.

The panel brought oncologists, cardiologists and hypertension experts together to draft new recommendations for physicians prescribing angiogenesis inhibitors for the treatment of cancer. First approved in the mid-2000's, these drugs disrupt tumor growth by preventing the formation of new blood vessels, but also increase blood pressure in most patients.

Treating a patient's hypertension before starting the inhibitors and closely monitoring their blood pressure in the days after treatment begins can help physicians control this side effect, the panel concluded this month in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Those precautions may allow patients at higher risk for cardiovascular disease to benefit from these novel cancer treatments, authors said.

"This paper should impact practice today," said Michael Maitland, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center and lead author on the commentary. "It should make things safer on average for patients, and will give physicians important guidance."

Several different angiogenesis inhibitors have been studied in clinical trials, and all cause an elevation of blood pressure in most patients. These drugs are also given with increased frequency to patients above 60 years old, a population with a high chance of pre-existing hypertension.

"Often the case is those patients aren't seeking medical attention for hypertension until they find that they have a tumor and need treatment for cancer," Maitland said. "If a patient is hypertensive, a physician should not dismiss that as irrelevant just because they have advanced cancer. We already know that ignoring co-morbidities in a cancer patient can generate as much risk for their long term surviva
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Contact: Robert Mitchum
robert.mitchum@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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