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News » Filed under: Pancreatic Cancer

FDA Approves 2 Drugs for Pancreatic Cancer

Article date: May 23, 2011

By Stacy Simon

The US Food and Drug Administration has recently approved Sutent (sunitinib) and Afinitor (everolimus) to treat people with certain tumors in the pancreas that cannot be removed by surgery or that have spread to other parts of the body.

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) found in the pancreas are slow-growing and very rare. It is estimated there are fewer than 1,000 new cases in the United States each year. There are few effective treatment options for people who have this cancer.

In a study of 171 patients, those who took Sutent lived about 10 months without the cancer spreading or getting worse, compared to about 5 months for patients who got a placebo (sugar pill). Patients who got the placebo were able to get Sutent if their cancer worsened.

The most common side effects were diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anorexia, high blood pressure, energy loss, stomach pain, changes in hair color, inflammation of the mouth, and a decrease in infection-fighting white blood cells.

Afinitor was studied in a clinical trial of 410 people. Those who took the drug lived about 11 months without the cancer spreading or getting worse, compared to about 4-and-a-half months for those who got a placebo. Patients who got the placebo were able to get Afinitor if their cancer worsened.

The most common side effects were inflammation of the mouth, rash, diarrhea, fatigue, swelling, stomach pain, nausea, fever and headache.

Sutent is already approved by the FDA to treat late-stage kidney cancer and gastrointestinal stromal tumor, a rare cancer of the stomach, bowel or esophagus. Afinitor is also FDA-approved for kidney cancer and a type of brain cancer. Afinitor also has another trade name, Zortress, which is approved to treat some adult patients to prevent organ rejection after a kidney transplant.

Sutent is marketed by Pfizer, and Afinitor is marketed by Novartis.

Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff


ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.

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