Kidney cancer claims the lives of about 13,000 patients in the United States each year.
This type of cancer is resistant to both cancer chemotherapy and radiation.
The best treatment option has been surgical removal of the affected kidney.
If the cancer was isolated to the kidney, the patient could hope to survive at least 5 years. If, however, the cancer had metastasized, the survival rate was much lower.
Now, however, there is a new option for the treatment of renal cell cancer, the form kidney cancer most commonly takes. Afinitor is a new drug made by Novartis that has been approved for use in the U.S.; applications have been made for approval of the drug in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere.
Afinitor is intended for use for recurrent kidney cancer that has not responded to Sutent and Nexavar, other medications commonly prescribed for kidney cancer patients.
The drug works by blocking the protein that enables cancer cells to divide and grow. In tests of the drug, patients who received Afinitor were free from tumor growth more than twice as long as patients who did not receive the drug.
Tumor growth was delayed for nearly 5 months in the group of patients receiving Afinitor, but less than 2 months for patients not receiving the drug.