New studies of two drugs, showing that each works better than the standard treatment for advanced kidney cancer, should lead to changes in patient care, researchers said on Friday.
One study, of the drug nivolumab (sold as Opdivo), was stopped ahead of schedule because safety monitors found that patients receiving the drug were living longer than those in a comparison group taking the usual treatment, everolimus (sold as Afinitor). The study was halted for ethical reasons, to offer the comparison group nivolumab.
The other drug, cabozantinib (sold as Cometriq), was also tested against everolimus, and proved more effective at slowing the cancer’s growth. But that study has not gone on long enough to determine whether cabozantinib also prolongs survival.
Dr. Robert J. Motzer, one of the leaders of both studies, said the findings on nivolumab were a major advance that would change the field and affect most patients worldwide with advanced kidney cancer. Dr. Motzer specializes in kidney cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
[su_pullquote]“We have two new drugs that are very promising, and this is not a small increment.”[/su_pullquote]
About 61,560 new cases of kidney cancer, and 14,080 deaths, are expected in the United States in 2015, according to the American Cancer Society. Exact causes are not known, but risk factors include smoking, certain chemical exposures, obesity, high blood pressure, genetic mutations and heredity.