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New Treatment May Beat Melanoma
Date:9/24/2009

In trials, advanced cancers shrunk rapidly, researchers say

THURSDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental treatment for advanced melanoma promotes rapid shrinking of tumors, according to a new study.

The phase I extension trial includes patients with the cancer-causing mutation of the BRAF gene, which is associated with about 50 percent of melanomas and 5 percent of colorectal cancers.

The patients were given 960 milligrams of PLX4032 twice a day. Of the 22 patients evaluated to date, 14 (64 percent) showed at least 30 percent shrinkage in the diameter of tumors for at least a month -- the official criteria for partial response to the treatment. Another six of the 22 patients also showed a response, but it was too early to determine whether the tumors would shrink enough to meet the criteria for partial response.

The findings were scheduled to be presented Thursday in Berlin at a meeting of the European Cancer Organization and the European Society for Medical Oncology.

"We are very excited about these results. Of the 22 patients we have been able to evaluate so far, 20 have had some objective tumor shrinkage. This is impressive as they all had metastatic disease, and most of them had failed several prior therapies," trial co-leader Dr. Paul Chapman, an attending physician on the melanoma/sarcoma service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, said at a news briefing.

"A lot of these patients were pretty sick, but many of them had a significant and rapid improvement in the way they function. We've had patients come off oxygen, and we've got several patients who have been able to come off narcotic pain medication soon after starting treatment," Chapman said.

"What makes this treatment different from standard chemotherapy is that standard chemotherapy attacks the machinery involved in cell division; so to stop the cancer cells dividing uncontrollably, most sta
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