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why chemotherapy increases media survival under 6 months

Why most cancer treatments don’t save lives.  Cancer cells slightly modified normal cells—only about 6 genes are typically involved.  Very few drugs can distinguish between cancer and normal cells.  Thus if they have the ability to destroy cancer cells, they will also destroy normal cells.  Instead of targeting the cancer directly with a lethal chemical and destroying it, most cancer treatment drugs (those which average under a year extension of life) target a process which affects the ability of cells to reproduce, grow in the body, absorb glycogen etc.  The cancer drug doesn’t just affect the cancer cells, but most of the cells in the body.  However, one cannot shut down this process; often just reduce the rate at which the process occurs.  These processes are essential for normal cells as well as the cancerous cells.  A drug which diminishes the product of capillaries affects the health of all tissues since the body is at a slow pace replace as need old and damage capillaries.  Cancer to grow needs as the tissue expands the nutrients supplied by the blood through the capillaries. 

The information for the news release below is provided by Hoffmann-La Roche, and like all such releases there is a positive bias.  Vemufafenib affects the BRAF gene which codes for the B-Raf protein, which is involve in signaling in the cell growth process.   The overall survival was 13.3 months which is 3.4 months better than the standard treatment with dacarbazine.   Missing is the survival for those untreated which would be around 8 months (guestimate based on the fact that those with this type of melanoma; however, drug tests are always performed on the atypical group of younger patients whose condition is less severe than the average.)   When there is proper review, the results are less than those in industry generated journal articles.  Cochrane Review, found in their meta study of metastatic colorectal cancer survival was increased by 3.7 months.  


European Medicines Agency recommends approval of first-in-class treatment for metastatic or unresectable melanoma

Posted December 16, 2011

European Medicines Agency recommends approval of first-in-class treatment for metastatic or unresectable melanoma

Novel protein-kinase inhibitor recommended for treatment of melanoma patients with BRAF V600 mutations

The European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended the granting of a marketing authorisation for a novel protein-kinase inhibitor to treat patients suffering from metastatic or unresectable melanoma with BRAF V600 mutations.

Melanoma is the sixth most common malignancy in men and the seventh most common malignancy in women. In Europe, doctors diagnose almost 60,000 new cases of melanoma per year. Approximately 8,300 men and 7,600 women die from this type of cancer every year. When detected and treated early, patients with localised melanoma have an excellent prognosis, with a survival rate of more than 90%. However, for patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma, the prognosis remains poor: it is estimated that only 25.5% of patients diagnosed with this type of disease are still alive one year after first diagnosis; five years after the first diagnosis, less than 15% of patients are still alive.

There is a high unmet medical need for alternative treatments for metastatic melanoma that improve survival of patients. In the pivotal clinical trial, Zelboraf (vemurafenib), the new protein-kinase inhibitor, was compared to the standard first-line treatment of dacarbazine. The medicine was shown to improve progression-free survival (PFS) by about 4 months (5.3 months for vemurafenib compared to 1.6 months for dacarbazine) and overall survival (OS) by about 3 months (13.2 months for vemurafenib compared to 9.9 months for dacarbazine) in patients who tested positive for BRAF V600 mutations.

In its assessment, the CHMP also looked at potential side effects of Zelboraf. The Committee considered that although there was a risk of secondary neoplasms, most notably squamous cell carcinoma of the skin (cuSCC), the magnitude of the risk was likely to be low. The Committee also noted that the applicant's risk-management plan for this medicine detailed adequate risk-minimisation measures and the product information contained appropriate information so that cuSCC can be managed in clinical practice, e.g. by routine monitoring during treatment.

Following review of all available data, the Committee concluded during its December 2011 meeting that the benefits of Zelboraf, particularly the improvements seen in terms of PFS and OS of patients, outweigh its risks, and recommended that a marketing authorisation should therefore be granted.

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Disclaimer:  The information, facts, and opinions provided here is not a substitute for professional advice.  It only indicates what JK believes, does, or would do.  Always consult your primary care physician for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.