Brain Cancer Treatment - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Brain Cancer Treatment

A drug originally approved for colon cancer may now help patients with deadly brain tumors. Janet Vasil has the details.

In 2006, Richard Oropeza had surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor that was growing rapidly.

Richard explains "It had shifted my brain to the far left and if they didn't do the surgery, then I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you."

But surgery, combined with radiation and chemotherapy couldn't stop the tumor called a Glioblastoma from coming back.

Dr. David Schiff, M.D. says "Those are highly malignant tumors which even with our best conventional therapies, we're rarely able to shrink or make disappear."

But soon there may be a new weapon in the doctor's arsenal. Researchers say findings from a study on the colon cancer drug Avastin are impressive.

"30 to 40% of patients were able to dramatically shrink the tumor." says Dr. Schiff.

The drug works by starving the cancer.

"For tumors to continue to grow beyond a certain size of a few millimeters in diameter, they needed to kind of trick the body into growing them a new blood supply to bring them the nutrients they need."

Avastin interferes with that process. Doctors say the treatment's no cure, but it can prolong survival.

Dr. Schiff says "Typically, when a patient has been diagnosed with recurrent glioblastoma, who has failed standard treatments, they have an average life expectancy of about six months."

Richard started the study well over a year ago and his tumor has stabilized.
 
"It has not grown and that makes us happy."

And it gives them hope. This is Janet Vasil reporting.

Researchers are planning more studies with Avastin. To find out where, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov and tupe "Avastin and Glioblastoma" in the search box.

FAST FACTS:
About 52,236 new primary brain tumors will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year.
The most common type of malignant brain tumor is the glioblastoma.
Current median survival time after diagnosis of a glioblastoma is only 8 to 15 months.
The combination of two drugs, Avastin® and CAMPTOSAR®, was able to shrink the tumor in 63 percent of patients with recurrent glioblastoma.
For more details, refer to our comprehensive research summary.

Online Reporter: Ashley Gatz

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