New drug in cancer battle - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

New drug in cancer battle

Madison (WKOW) -- There's a new hope for patients with aggressive brain cancer.

  As Janet Vasil reports, researchers see potential in a drug that is already being used for colon, breast and lung cancer.

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

  He said, "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.

  Doctor David Schiff said, "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.

  Doctor Schiff added, "30 to 40% of patients were able to dramatically shrink the tumor."

  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," Doctor Schiff said.

  Avastin interferes with that process.

  Doctors say the treatment's no cure, but it can prolong survival.

  Doctor Schiff also said, "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.

  Oropeza said, "it has not grown and that makes us happy."

  And it gives them hope.

  Researchers are planning more studies with avastin.

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