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Avastin May Stop Rectal Cancer Spread

Patients in Study Show No Signs of New Cancer Growth in Area of Original Tumor

Experimental Drug Shows Promise for Brain Cancer continued...

On average, participants lived for 227 days; the average time to tumor regrowth was 117. In contrast, people with glioblastoma given traditional treatment typically live only 175 days, and the average time to progression is usually 63 days, he says.

In addition, cediranib was found to alleviate brain swelling, "a huge problem with the type of cancer that makes patients stay on steroids for long periods of time," Batchelor says.

Two of the 31 patients had to stop taking cediranib due to drug-related fatigue. Other common, but manageable, side effects included high blood pressure and diarrhea.

Batchelor says the pill works similarly to Avastin, blocking the growth of new blood vessels that feed tumors and normalizing remaining vessels.

He says a larger trial that will pit cediranib plus standard chemotherapy against chemotherapy alone is scheduled to start enrolling patients this summer.

Using the Body's Immune System to Fight Prostate Cancer

In many ways, cancer is a malfunction of the body's immune system. Tumor cells often grow and spread because the body doesn't recognize them as foreign.

Two other teams of researchers are taking unique approaches to manipulate the immune system to recognize cancer cells as alien invaders that need to be wiped out.

First, they remove the brakes on the immune system. That's accomplished with a drug called ipilimumab. It blocks CTLA-4, a molecule on immune system cells that inhibits the immune response.

Then, they jump-start the immune system to attack the cancer -- in one case with a vaccine called GVAX and in the other, with a compound called GM-CSF.

Both approaches curbed tumor growth in men with prostate cancer that hadn't responded to hormone therapy.

"This is a strategy we should pursue with great vigor," says Louis Weiner, MD, director of the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He was not involved with the work.

"Utilizing the immune system to attack cancer will probably be remembered as one of the cardinal accomplishments of this era of research," Weiner tells WebMD.

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