New Approach in Cancer Medications
In February, the Food and Drug Administration approved two new cancer drugs that are part of a new kind of cancer treatment. While conventional cancer drugs kill normal, healthy cells along with the cancer cells, these two new medications, called Avastin and Erbitux, are much more targeted to destroy the cancer cells alone. The drugs work by “starving” tumors, making them unable to grow and spread.
This is good news for cancer patients not only because the drugs have been shown to extend life, but also because the side effects of treatment are not as toxic. The hair loss, nausea, mouth sores and increased risk of infection that are common with conventional treatment are typically not present with these more targeted medications.
Avastin and Erbitux have been approved for treating advanced colon cancer, but researchers are testing them in patients with other cancers as well, including breast, lung and mesothelioma, a cancer that’s related to asbestos. Many scientists believe that the drugs will actually work best when used in combination, and there are clinical trials currently being conducted to determine whether that is true.
National Cancer Institute.