Health Day - ONLINE EDITION

Kidney Cancer Drugs Equal in Prolonging Survival: Study

But pazopanib gives patients a better quality of life than sunitinib, researchers report

  • Print

THURSDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The drug pazopanib (Votrient) works as well as sunitinib (Sutent) for treating advanced kidney cancer, but it has milder side effects, a new study finds.

Although both drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as first-line treatments for kidney cancer and both boost survival, pazopanib had the edge in improving the quality of life, the researchers reported.

"Kidney cancer has long been considered one of the most difficult-to-treat cancers, and is associated with a poor prognosis when it's metastasized [or spreading]," said lead researcher Dr. Robert Motzer, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Now there are drugs that attack a gene that is responsible for turning kidney cells into cancer cells, he said. "There has been tremendous progress in the treatment of this disease since 2005 with these targeted drugs," Motzer said. "The first of these drugs was sunitinib, which is considered the standard in first-line treatment for kidney cancer."

This new trial was a head-to-head comparison of sunitinib and pazopanib. The researchers found both had a similar safety profile and survival benefit, but there were milder side effects with pazopanib, Motzer said. These included less fatigue and fewer sores on the bottom of the feet, he noted.

"The data also suggest that patients on pazopanib have a better quality of life than patients on sunitinib," Motzer said. Both drugs cost about the same -- about $6,500 a month -- and are covered by Medicare and many private insurers.

"Both these drugs are good options for first-line treatment," Motzer said. "They allow for us to individualize treatment for patients. In my own practice, I have changed my preferred drug from sunitinib over to pazopanib, because most patients appear to have a better quality of life with pazopanib compared with sunitinib."

The trial was paid for by GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, the maker of pazopanib.

Dr. Jessica Kreshover, a urologist at North Shore-LIJ's Arthur Smith Institute for Urology in Lake Success, N.Y., said that "this study shows that there is more than one option for first-line therapy for renal [kidney] cancer."

According to Motzer, 65,000 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year in the United States. "It's the sixth most common cancer," he said. And because it is often diagnosed late, 30 percent to 50 percent of the patients develop metastasis, he added. "It's one of the top 10 cancer killers," he noted.

The report was published in the Aug. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"We now have a number of treatment options for kidney cancer," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. "The question then becomes how do you make a choice."

Lichtenfeld noted that not only did the study show that the drugs had similar survival benefits and that pazopanib was better at improving patients' quality of life, but also that pazopanib saved health care dollars by cutting the number of doctor visits.

"We need to look at our treatments not only in terms of whether they delay the progression of the cancer or increase overall survival, but also what is the cost to the patient and the medical care system," Lichtenfeld said.

For the study, Motzer's team randomly assigned more than 1,100 patients with advanced kidney cancer to either sunitinib or pazopanib.

The investigators found both drugs fared as well in the length of time they held the cancer at bay and extended life -- about nine months.

The real difference was seen in their side effects. Patients taking pazopanib suffered less fatigue, fewer sores on the hands and feet, and fewer bouts of a blood disease called thrombocytopenia, which can cause bleeding, than patients taking sunitinib, Motzer's group found.

Some patients taking pazopanib, however, had higher levels of an enzyme called alanine aminotransferase -- a sign of potential liver damage -- than those taking sunitinib, the researchers noted.

Most importantly, according to Motzer, patients taking pazopanib rated their quality of life better than patients taking sunitinib.

More information

For more on kidney cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Cheap summer weekends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.
  • JJOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-Postcard  Day-Horror frost and fog created a most beautiful setting at Assiniboine Park Thursday morning in WInnipeg- Enviroent Canada says the fog will lifet this morning and will see a high of -7C-  JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Feb 18, 2010

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should confessions extracted through Mr. Big police stings be admissible in court?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google