New Drug Combo for Rare Cancer

Neuroendocrine tumor therapies everolimus with octreotide slow growth

(RxWiki News) A study looking at a rare set of tumors that make hormones was given a second look, coming to some new conclusions.

Researchers were able to identify some key risk factors for developing these advanced cancers, called neuroendocrine tumors, and also compared the drug therapies currently available.

The conclusions, presented at the 9th Annual Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, demonstrated that combining Afinitor (everolimus) with the chemotherapy agent octreotide was able to slow tumor growth better than any other drug therapy.

The analysis was performed on the original study known as RADIANT-2 on 429 patients with advanced neuroendocrine tumors causing carcinoid syndrome. This analysis follows up on the original work, looking for deeper relationships.

"Ask your oncologist about all available drug therapies."

Carcinoid syndrome is a term used to describe the symptoms of high levels of serotonin produced by these tumors, most commonly flushing of the skin, cramping, and watery diarrhea.

The team also found that certain factors of advanced disease meant that the risk of progression was 1.5 times greater than in other cases. All data was obtained from the RADIANT-2 phase III study.

“We have identified important prognostic factors that can help physicians to better determine the optimal treatment for patients with neuroendocrine tumors," said lead author James Yao, M.D., from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's department of gastrointestinal oncology.

“The findings will also improve our ability to stratify patients in future randomized trials on neuroendocrine tumors.”

While more commonly arising in the pancreas or intestine, neuroendocrine tumors can appear in any area of the body and may have a wide array of symptoms, including flushing of the skin. Octreotide blocks the effect of serotonin and may shrink or stabilize the tumor in some cases.

Cost of octreotide was cited at around $750 per year of therapy, and Afinitor at around $5,000 per month.

Results are considered preliminary until research is published in a peer reviewed journal. Larger studies are currently planned to verify the results discovered in this analysis.

Researchers disclosed a number of financial relationships with drug manufacturers including Ipsen, Pfizer, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Novartis and Genetech. 

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Review Date: 
February 21, 2012