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The Combination of Biologic Therapy with Interferon Alfa-2a plus Chemotherapy is more Effective than Chemotherapy Alone for Treatment of Patients with Advanced Renal Cell Cancer

The treatment of advanced renal cell cancer typically consists of surgical removal of the affected kidney followed by additional treatment with chemotherapy and/or biologic therapy for the purpose of preventing recurrence of the cancer. Small clinical trials have suggested that disappearance of cancer or the response rates for patients with renal cell cancer treated with interferon alfa-2a and chemotherapy are higher than with chemotherapy alone. However, no direct comparisons have shown a clear improvement in survival with the combination therapy compared to chemotherapy alone.

Doctors in Finland recently reported the results of a clinical study that directly compared chemotherapy treatment with vinblastine alone to vinblastine combined with interferon in 160 patients with advanced renal cell cancer. The treatment program continued for 12 months or until patients had evidence of cancer progression. Patients treated with the combined therapy survived twice as long, an average of 68 weeks compared to only 38 weeks for patients treated with vinblastine alone. Overall, 16.5% of patients receiving combination therapy respond to treatment compared to 2.5% of patients receiving vinblastine alone. This clinical study is extremely important because it confirms reports that biologic therapy with interferon is an effective approach for treatment of patients with renal cell cancer. Interferon may best be used in combination chemotherapy and not as a single agent. Clinical trials are ongoing to determine whether other biologic agents are active in the treatment of renal cell cancer (Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 17, Issue 9, p 2859,1999)

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