According to a story from curetoday.com, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently announced its 2018 Advance of the Year. For 2018, the organization chose to highlight progress that has been made in treating a variety of rare cancers. Cancers that are considered rare currently comprise about 20 percent of all cancer diagnoses in the US. Keep reading if you want to learn about some of the drug approvals and other discoveries that occurred in 2018 that will help improve the lives of patients with rare cancers.
Lutathera for GEP-NETs
In early 2018 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Lutathera as a treatment for patients with gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs) that are somatostatin receptor positive. These are rare tumors that can appear on the pancreas or along the digestive system. To learn more about GEP-NETs, click here.
Dabrafenib and Trametinib for BRAF-Mutated Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma
The FDA also approved a combination treatment consisting of dabrafenib and trametinib for an exceptionally rare type of thyroid cancer called BRAF-mutated anaplastic thyroid carcinoma. This is an abnormally fast growing and aggressive thyroid cancer variant that is notorious for resisting chemotherapy treatment and spreading to other areas. The approval happened in May and marked the first treatment for anaplastic thyroid cancer in around 50 years. To learn more about BRAF-mutated anaplastic thyroid carcinoma, click here.
Sorafenib for Desmoid Tumors
A study also found that the targeted therapy sorafenib was capable of improving progression free survival for desmoid tumors. They originate in connective tissue in the limbs or the abdomen. When aggressive, they can be life-threatening, and sorafenib helps prevent these tumors from forming blood vessels. To learn more about desmoid tumors, click here.
Trastuzumab for HER2 Positive Uterine Serous Carcinoma
Another trial revealed that trastuzumab, which is typically used to treat breast cancer, can also slow down disease progression of uterine serous carcinoma that is HER2 positive. This is an aggressive and rare endometrial cancer variant. Progression free survival improved by over 50 percent on average in the study. To learn more about uterine serous carcinoma, click here.
Pexidartinib for Tenosynovial Giant Cell Tumors
Another study featuring the experimental therapy pexidartinib was able to improve the immune response and reduce inflammation in patients diagnosed with tenosynovial giant cell tumor. This rare tumor is not malignant, but it can have debilitating effects as its appears tendon sheaths or joints of young people. Click here to learn more about tenosynovial giant cell tumors.
Clearly 2018 was a big year of progress for treating rare cancers. The struggle to treat rare disease can feel like an impossible task, but stories like these remind us that improvements are being made all of the time.