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A recent study showed that patients with metastatic kidney cancer (kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) preferred pazopanib (Votrient) to sunitinib (Sutent), reporting that they had better quality of life while receiving pazopanib. These drugs are a type of treatment called targeted therapy, which targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. To help control cancer growth, patients with metastatic kidney cancer often need to take one of these drugs for many months or years. This means that they are also likely to experience side effects for as long as they take the drug, which can greatly affect their long-term quality of life.
As part of this study, 168 patients received pazopanib for 10 weeks followed by a two-week break in treatment. Then, they received sunitinib for 10 weeks. When 114 of these patients were asked about their treatment preferences, researchers found that 70% preferred treatment with pazopanib, 22% preferred sunitinib, and 8% had no preference. The most common reasons patients gave for preferring pazopanib was better quality of life and less fatigue. Researchers also found that patients taking pazopanib needed to have the dose lowered less often and needed fewer breaks in treatment than when taking sunitinib. Lowering the dose and temporarily stopping treatment are signs that the treatment is causing too many or too severe side effects.
What this means for patients
“While we expected patients would prefer one drug over the other, due to the known side effects, we didn't expect this great a preference,” said the study's lead author, Bernard J. Escudier, MD, a physician at the Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France. “It's an important reminder that experiencing mild side effects over a long time has an effect on your quality of life.” Talk with your doctor about the side effects of each of your treatment options, including how they may affect your quality of life and how they can be managed.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What are my treatment options?
- What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
- What are the possible side effects of treatment, both in the short term and the long term?
- How can these side effects be managed?
- How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?
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