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New Cancer Drug Boosts Blood Pressure
Date:1/3/2008

ugs are prescribed for patients with advanced malignancies and short life expectancies, he explained.

Also, for patients with normal blood pressure, the increase caused by the drug is manageable with blood pressure-lowering drugs, he noted.

"However, our observations show that in initially hypertensive patients [people with high blood pressure] the additional sunitinib-related increase in blood pressure is not easy to control and that recommended blood pressure targets are not easily achievable despite administration of multiple anti-hypertensive drugs," Azizi said.

Rapid increases in blood pressure should be expected for every patient treated with sunitinib, Azizi said, so close monitoring is needed.

"We strongly advise the routine use of home blood pressure monitoring in standard care for early detection and accurate assessment of blood pressure changes in patients treated with any sunitinib-like drugs," Azizi said.

Dr. Ming Hui Chen is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a cardiologist at Children's Hospital Boston and lead author of the December sunitinib study that was published in The Lancet. She agreed that patients taking sunitinib need to have their blood pressure monitored.

"In general, hypertension is one of the most treatable of all medical conditions," Chen said. "VEGF inhibitor-associated hypertension is not uncommon, but in my experience a very manageable one."

"We should not lose sight that this type of anti-cancer therapy is effective for patients with metastatic renal cell [kidney] and gastrointestinal stromal [stomach] tumors," Chen said.

For patients, Chen recommends making sure that "you with your doctor together are monitoring and treating your blood pressure while you are undergoing this type of anti-cancer treatment. Early identification and aggressive treatment of hypertension are key."

In a statement released in Dece
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