Nexavar® (sorafenib) provides cancer control among patients with thyroid cancer that has progressed following standard therapy. These results were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The thyroid is a gland in the throat that produces hormones mostly related to metabolic processes in the body. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 37,340 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in 2008 in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of all thyroid cancers occur in people between the ages of 20 and 55. Overall, thyroid cancer is considered to be a highly curable cancer, with 97% of individuals alive at least five years following diagnosis. Nearly 95% of all thyroid cancers are classified as differentiated thyroid cancers; the distinction refers to the type and characteristics of the cancer cells.
Standard therapy for thyroid cancer includes the removal of the thyroid, which is followed by drugs to suppress certain hormone levels related to the thyroid, and radiation plus iodine (radioiodine) therapy, which is targeted to eliminate any remaining thyroid cancer cells. Patients whose thyroid cancer progresses or fails following standard therapy have a 10-year survival rate of less than 15%. Thus, novel agents targeting progressive thyroid cancers are needed.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate Nexavar in the treatment of patients with advanced thyroid cancer who had stopped responding to iodine-based therapy. This trial included 30 patients who were treated with Nexavar for at least 16 weeks.
- Partial anticancer responses occurred in 23% of patients.
- Stabilization of cancer occurred in 53% of patients.
- Total disease control (partial anticancer responses plus disease stabilization) occurred in 76% of patients.
- Median progression-free survival was 79 weeks.
The researchers concluded that Nexavar provides significant anticancer activity among patients with thyroid cancer who have progressed following standard therapy, and that the results appeared to be improved compared with that of chemotherapy for patients with this disease. Patients with advanced thyroid cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participation in a clinical trial further evaluating Nexavar or other promising therapeutic agents. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.eCancerTrials.com.
Reference: Gupta-Abramson V, Troxel AB, Nellore A, et al. Phase II trial of sorafenib in advaced thyroid cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology [early online publication]. June 9, 2008.