SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—According to the American Cancer Society, more than 75,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with kidney cancer this year. In early stages, the cancer can be treatable, but treatment gets tricky when the cancer has spread. Now, details on a combination therapy that is stopping cancer in its tracks.
Brent Hall loves living life at full speed.
“The fastest I’ve gone is 174 miles per hour. My long-term dream is to become an unlimited hydroplane driver. First African American unlimited hydroplane driver,” Hall shared.
But about three years ago, his world came to a grinding halt.
“I noticed there was some blood in my urine. I found out that I kidney cancer,” Hall recalled.
And the cancer had spread to his lungs.
“There was one sort of golf ball sized tumor in his lung. If he had not been treated, the prognosis was probably that he would die within a year,” described John Gore, MD, MS, professor at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
Brent had a minimally invasive procedure to remove the cancer-affected kidney. Then after surgery, doctors used a combination of two immunotherapies to get rid of the cancer that had spread outside his kidneys.
“He received a combination of these two drugs nivolumab and ipilimumab. They turn back on the immune system so it can fight the cancer,” Dr. Gore explained.
The FDA approved the combination therapy after studies showed patients had a significant improvement in overall survival with the therapy compared to those patients who got chemotherapy. After a few months on the therapy, Brent’s cancer started reducing in size. Eventually the treatment eliminated the cancer from Brent’s lungs and now he is back doing what he loves.
“Once you’re in the boat and you’re strapped in, you have an air mask on, you don’t think about anything except going out and kicking some butt,” Hall exclaimed.
Leaving cancer and his opponents in the dust.
The FDA has also approved the combination therapy for other cancers, including small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, head and neck cancers, and colorectal cancer.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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TOPIC: COMBINATION DRUGS KILL ADVANCED KIDNEY CANCER
REPORT: MB #4886
BACKGROUND: Kidney cancer is cancer that begins in the kidneys. In adults, renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer. Young children are more likely to develop a kind of kidney cancer called Wilms’ tumor. The incidence of kidney cancer seems to be increasing, and one reason may be the fact that imaging techniques such as computerized tomography (CT) scans are being used more often. These tests may lead to the accidental discovery of more kidney cancers. Kidney cancer is often discovered at an early stage, when the cancer is small and confined to the kidney.
CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS: Doctors are unclear of what causes most kidney cancers but know that it begins when some kidney cells develop changes, or mutations in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do. The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can extend beyond the kidney. Some cells can break off and spread to distant parts of the body. There are several risk factors that can increase the risk of developing kidney cancer. These include older age, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, treatment for kidney failure, certain inherited syndromes, and family history. A few steps to lower that risk are to quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, and control high blood pressure.
COMBINATION THERAPY: All combination therapies include at least one type of immunotherapy, or drugs that use the body’s own immune system to attack the cancer. “Immunotherapy blocks a target on the cancer cell that prevents the immune system from seeing it, allowing the immune system to use all of its machinery to try to destroy the cancer cell,” explains Robert Figlin, MD, a kidney oncologist and deputy director of Cedars-Sinai Cancer in Los Angeles, CA. When an immunotherapy drug is combined with another drug, the two work together to attack the cancer. Researchers have found that combining immunotherapies and targeted therapies could improve outcomes for kidney cancer patients. The FDA has currently approved three different combinations for advanced kidney cancer treatment. It is recommended those taking two immunotherapy drugs should stay on the regimen as long as the cancer is not progressing, and side effects are managed.
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