Reassuring evidence: Anticancer drug does not accelerate tumor growth after treatment ends

February 7, 2013, Cell Press
Studies in animals have raised concerns that tumors may grow faster after the anticancer drug sunitinib is discontinued. But oncologists and physicists who collaborated to analyze data from the largest study of patients with kidney cancer convincingly demonstrate that such tumor acceleration does not occur in humans. The findings, publishing online on Feb. 7th in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports, suggest that sunitinib does not cause lingering risks for patients after their treatment ends. Credit: Cell Reports, Blagoev et al.

Studies in animals have raised concerns that tumors may grow faster after the anticancer drug sunitinib is discontinued. But oncologists and physicists who collaborated to analyze data from the largest study of patients with kidney cancer convincingly demonstrate that such tumor acceleration does not occur in humans. The findings, publishing online on February 7th in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports, suggest that sunitinib does not cause lingering risks for patients after their treatment ends.

"We were able to demonstrate that this applied across all patients and that those who had the greatest benefit from the drug while it was administered retained this benefit," says senior author Dr. Tito Fojo, of the at the National Institutes of Health.

Studies in animals have raised concerns that tumors may grow faster after the anticancer drug sunitinib is discontinued. But oncologists and physicists who collaborated to analyze data from the largest study of patients with kidney cancer convincingly demonstrate that such tumor acceleration does not occur in humans. The findings, publishing online on Feb. 7th in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports, suggest that sunitinib does not cause lingering risks for patients after their treatment ends. Credit: Cell Reports, Blagoev et al.

Sunitinib, which is approved around the world for the treatment of several different cancers, works by targeting proteins on the blood vessels that feed tumors. Animal studies have suggested that treatment with sunitinib may induce changes in or adaptations within tumors themselves that could promote and spread.

When Dr. Fojo and his colleagues analyzed more than 10,000 data points from the pivotal randomized phase 3 clinical trial that led to sunitinib's approval, the evidence clearly showed that no matter how long patients took sunitinib, it was not harmful, did not accelerate , and did not shorten survival after treatment ended. During treatment, the drug slowed tumor growth and prolonged the patients' survival.

"Last year, I was approached by two patients who had grave concerns about taking sunitinib due to an article conducted in animals. I realized that if clinical data exist that refute basic science, they must be published," recalls Dr. Fojo.

The researchers' findings indicate that sunitinib can benefit patients without altering after the drug is stopped. "We hope this can be generalized to similar drugs but recognize that further studies will be needed," says first author Dr. Krastan Blagoev of the National Science Foundation. "Nevertheless, other drugs also approved worldwide for a variety of cancers—including sorafenib, pazopanib, and axitinib—are similar to sunitinib, and this will give some reassurances that one need not expect things to get worse after such drugs are discontinued."

Explore further: Clinical trial design supports original accelerated approval of sunitinib for GIST

More information: Cell Reports, Blagoev et al.: "Sunitinib Does Not Accelerate Tumor Growth in Patients with Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma." dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2013.01.015

Related Stories

Clinical trial design supports original accelerated approval of sunitinib for GIST

June 1, 2012
Patients benefitted from an important design element in the pivotal phase III clinical trial that led to Food and Drug Administration and worldwide regulatory approval of sunitinib for the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal ...

Many of those living with HIV face a new life-threatening challenge: cancer

June 6, 2011
As the world marks the 30-year anniversary of the first reporting of HIV/AIDS, now comes the realization of a new challenge for people with the incurable disease. For reasons not yet clear, people with HIV face a higher ...

Regorafenib active in metastatic GI stromal tumors

May 23, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Regorafenib, an inhibitor of multiple cancer-associated kinases, is active in patients with metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) who have failed to respond to imatinib and sunitinib, according ...

Recommended for you

Research team discovers drug compound that stops cancer cells from spreading

June 22, 2018
Fighting cancer means killing cancer cells. However, oncologists know that it's also important to halt the movement of cancer cells before they spread throughout the body. New research, published today in the journal Nature ...

Dying cancer cells make remaining glioblastoma cells more aggressive and therapy-resistant

June 21, 2018
A surprising form of cell-to-cell communication in glioblastoma promotes global changes in recipient cells, including aggressiveness, motility, and resistance to radiation or chemotherapy.

Existing treatment could be used for common 'untreatable' form of lung cancer

June 21, 2018
A cancer treatment already approved for use in certain types of cancer has been found to block cell growth in a common form of lung cancer for which there is currently no specific treatment available.

Novel therapy makes oxidative stress deadly to cancer

June 21, 2018
Oxidative stress can help tumors thrive, but one way novel cancer treatments work is by pushing levels to the point where it instead helps them die, scientists report.

Higher body fat linked to lower breast cancer risk in younger women

June 21, 2018
While obesity has been shown to increase breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women, a large-scale study co-led by a University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher found the opposite is true ...

Researchers uncover new target to stop cancer growth

June 21, 2018
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that a protein called Munc13-4 helps cancer cells secrete large numbers of exosomes—tiny, membrane-bound packages containing proteins and RNAs that stimulate ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.