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Angiosarcomas are rare cancers that develop from the body’s blood vessels or lymph system vessels. Depending on the specific location and stage of an angiosarcoma, treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. Researchers are continuing to develop new treatments in an effort to improve the survival time of persons with this type of cancer. Researchers in New York City now report that a chemotherapy drug, paclitaxel, is an active anti-cancer drug against angiosarcoma of the scalp and face.

Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York treated 9 persons with angiosarcoma of the scalp or face with various paclitaxel doses and schedules over 1, 3, and 24 hours. Of these patients, 8 had major responses to the treatment, while the other remaining patient had a minor response. The overall major response rate was 89%, with the average duration of response being 5 months.

These findings indicate that paclitaxel is an active agent against angiosarcoma of the scalp and face, even in persons who were treated previously with another chemotherapy or radiation therapy. These researchers suggested that further studies be conducted to determine the most effective and safest dosing and scheduling of paclitaxel for the treatment of this type of cancer. Persons with angiosarcoma of the scalp or face may wish to talk with their doctor about the risks and benefits of paclitaxel, or of participating in a clinical trial in which other new treatments are being studied.(Cancer, Vol 86, No 10, pp 2034-2037, 1999)

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