"This represents a very substantial improvement in outcome for these individuals, and I think we can look forward to seeing widespread adoption of gemcitabine for patients with pancreatic cancer that can be surgically removed," Schilsky said.
Researchers at the ASCO meeting also reported progress with another tough-to-treat cancer, advanced kidney cancer.
While there have been significant advances in recent years with drugs such as Sutent (sunitinib), that success has brought a new challenge: How to treat patients who don't respond to the latest generation of new therapies.
Enter everolimus, a drug which interferes with blood supply to the tumor and which is one of the first in a relatively new class of compounds. Patients randomized to receive everolimus plus best existing therapy had a 70 percent reduction in the risk of recurrence or death, compared to patients who received best existing therapy alone. For patients on everolimus, it took about four months for the cancer to return, versus about two months in the placebo group.
"While that may not sound like an enormous leap forward, it's actually a very important observation for several reasons," Schilsky explained. "This drug is targeting a different molecular pathway compared to anti-angiogenesis drugs [those that block blood supply to the tumor], so it's working in a completely different way. Secondly, when we make these observations, not only do patients benefit from a delay in progression of their cancer, but this kind of observation always gives us a new lead and an interest in moving these drugs up earlier into cancer treatment."
"A setting of unmet clinical need that has now been filled," added study author Dr. Robert Motzer, an attending physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. "Everolimus should be the standard of care in this setting, pending approv
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