Recently a cheap and decade old chemotherapy drug was found to be effective in prolonging the life of persons on standard hormone therapy and whose prostate cancer has widely metastasized. The men who received docetaxel, sold as Taxotere and in generic form lived a year more than persons who were not administered this drug.
One of the fallouts of having cancer is the economic costs which the disease inflicts on the patient. This has led to doctors revising their past notes with positive results.
Dr. Christopher Sweeney of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston who led the study and shared the results said that it was a big step in prolonging the life of prostate cancer patients. The results were published on Sunday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference in Chicago.
Prostate Cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and about 240,000 new cases are diagnosed every year in US. Of these about 30,000 patients have cancer which has spread to other regions of the body like bones or other organs.
The study included 790 men who received drugs to block testosterone. The hormone Testosterone helps in the cancer’s growth. Of the 790 men half were administered six infusions of docetaxel, once every three weeks. About 2 1/2 years later, 101 of the men given docetaxel had died versus 136 of the men who did not receive it. Most of the patients were able to tolerate the treatment except 1 patient who died and 6% had fevers from low blood counts.
The study also brought into sharp focus the importance of Federal funding. Dr. Clifford Hudis, who works at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and also is the president of the oncology society said, “These are often studies that industry is less interested in funding, such as a new use for an old drug that lost patent protection long ago.”
Generic docetaxel is much cheaper as compared to conventional cancer drugs whose costs can exceed $100,000 for a single course. A course of docetaxel costs about $1,500 or less per infusion.