There is a new drug currently in trials to aid in the shrinking of cancerous tumors. An initial study provides a great deal of hope for patients that have the gene mutation BRAF. Most experimental cancer drugs only work for one out of every ten patients. PLX4032 on the other hand showed more than a 50% success rate in the recently concluded study. In the study the drug was administered to 32 patients with tumors containing the BRAF gene mutation. In 26 of the patients there was noticeable shrinking of the tumor, some of which occurred in just the first few days of the trial. In two patients the tumor disappeared entirely. These patients were selected because they had tumors that other medications were not treating well. This success gives these 32 patients and many of cancer sufferers a great deal of hope.
Chemotherapy vs. PLX4032
Chemotherapy is commonly recommended for cancer patients. It works by killing off fast growing cells in the body. This can be both beneficial to the body and harmful but the risk is worth taking for a cancer patient. The treatment does not only kill off cancerous cells but many other types of growing cells in the body that is necessary to its function , blood cells for example. This creates the whirlwind of side effects associated with the treatment.
The treatment can be administered orally through a pill or through an injection done in the hospital. The difference between chemotherapy and the new drug PLX4032 is that the drug is considered a target treatment. It only kills the cancerous cells responsible for the BRAF mutated tumor. This means that other fast growing cells in the body remain unharmed which greatly reduced the side effects of the treatment. There are some mild side effects that may be a result of the PLX4032 but not anywhere near the magnitude of some that result from chemotherapy treatment.
Ask your doctor.
This drug is still in testing phases but some physicians have been administering it for their patients. If no other treatment is working to decrease the size or growth rate of the tumor then a test can be done to determine if the tumor contains the BRAF mutation. Unfortunately if the mutation is not present then the new cancer drug wont be beneficial. The test to determine whether a patient has this mutation only costs a few hundred dollars, this amount is minimal for a patient looking at life-long cancer treatments.
It is unclear at this time how much the treatment will cost. Most new cancer treatments cost approximately $6,000 a month when they are first released to the general public. Some insurance providers may cover the entire cost as it will save them from more costly treatments down the road if it is effective.
The company responsible for the development of the drug is Roche Pharmaceuticals. They plan to apply in 2011 for FDA approval for the drug. The process by which a drug gets tested and approved has been fast tracked due to the positive results from the drug and the potential benefits to its patients. This drug offers relief for patients with mutated cancerous tumors where other options seem to make no difference in prognosis.