[MOL] Cancer Drugs show Danger and Hope for BC.Lung and colon Part 1 of [01038] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Cancer Drugs show Danger and Hope for BC.Lung and colon Part 1 of 2 Series.....

Tuesday May 23 3:51 PM ET
|  Cancer Drugs Show Danger and Hope
|  By DANIEL Q. HANEY, AP Medical Editor
|  NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Drugs designed to stop tumors by
|  cutting off their blood supply have shown modest benefit in
|  tests against three kinds of cancer, but have also raised
|  concerns about possible dangerous side effects.
|  Angiogenesis inhibitors, as these drugs are called, are among
|  the most closely watched new developments in cancer
|  research. In animal studies, they sometimes dramatically
|  reverse cancer, and hopes are high they will do something
|  similar in people.
|  Several reports on mid-size studies of these medicines were
|  reported at this week's annual cancer conference sponsored
|  by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Together,
|  experts say, these studies offer proof that the concept is
|  sound: Attacking tumors' ability to sprout blood vessels clearly
|  inhibits cancer growth, even in terminally ill patients who have
|  tried all of the standard cancer drugs.
|                     However, these studies also show that
|                     these drugs can have a variety of
|                     unwanted side effects, some of which
|                     are fatal.
|                     ``These are drugs in every sense of the
|  word,'' said Dr. George Sledge of Indiana University. ``They
|  have activity, and they have toxicity.''
|  On Tuesday, doctors reported studies on drugs developed by
|  Genentech and Sugen that are designed to block tumors' use
|  of vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF. This substance
|  is a key fuel that allows the cancer to grow new blood vessels
|  and repair old ones. Without a new blood supply, cancers
|  never get bigger than a pinhead.
|  As is usual at this stage of testing, the drugs were given only to
|  people with spreading, incurable tumors, sometimes alone,
|  sometimes in combination with standard chemotherapy
|  medicines.
|  Doctors say that while no one was clearly cured, the
|  anti-VEGF compounds did seem to slow the tumors' spread, at
|  least for a few months.
|  ``We have three common solid tumors - breast, colon and lung
|  cancer - and this drug shows some evidence of clinical benefit
|  in all three, the most common cancers we deal with. That's the
|  real significance,'' said Dr. Russell DeVore of Vanderbilt
|  University, referring to new results with the Genentech drug.
|  However, DeVore's study, conducted on 99 terminally ill lung
|  cancer patients, also shows the drugs' potential hazards. Six
|  patients developed sudden, catastrophic bleeding in their
|  tumors, killing four of them.
|  ``We were taken by surprise. This was not an expected side
|  effect,'' DeVore said.
|  However, Dr. Nicholas J. Vogelzang of the University of
|  Chicago called this bleeding ``very exciting,'' despite its
|  unfortunate consequences, since it suggests the treatment truly
|  does appear to disrupt the tumor's ability to maintain a blood
|  supply.