THURSDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The anticancer drug Sutent
(sunitinib) does not cause tumors to grow faster after treatment
ends, according to a new study.
Previous research in animals suggested that tumor growth may
accelerate after patients stopped taking Sutent. The new findings,
from a study of kidney cancer patients, indicate that the drug does
not pose lingering risks for humans.
The researchers analyzed data from a phase 3 clinical trial that
led to Sutent's approval. They concluded that regardless of how
long patients took the drug, it did not cause harm, did not speed
up tumor growth and survival was not shortened after treatment
ended, according to the findings published online Feb. 7 in the
During treatment, Sutent slowed tumor growth and extended
patients' lives, the investigators pointed out in a journal news
Sutent, which is approved for the treatment of several different
cancers, targets proteins on the blood vessels that feed
"Last year, I was approached by two patients who had grave concerns about taking sunitinib due to an article [about research] conducted in animals. I realized that if clinical data exist that refute basic science, they must be published," study senior author Dr. Tito Fojo, of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, said in the news release.
These new findings should reassure patients, the study authors
"We hope [these findings] can be generalized to similar drugs but recognize that further studies will be needed," study first author Dr. Krastan Blagoev, of the U.S. National Science Foundation, said in the news release. "Nevertheless, other drugs also approved worldwide for a variety of cancers -- including sorafenib, pazopanib, and axitinib -- are similar to sunitinib, and this will give some reassurances that one need not expect things to get worse after such drugs are discontinued."
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about