New Drugs for Kidney Cancer

This year, the star of the Atlanta show was kidney cancer, specifically, advanced renal cell carcinoma. For the longest time, I looked more to heaven than science to guide me in the treatment of this disease, being limited to drugs which, in many cases, made patients feel worse than the cancer. When those didn't work or ceased to work, one was exposed as clueless. Nobody likes a recipe book approach. Doctors are supposed to know & understand their enemy, but renal cell cancer was shrouded in mystery.

Molecular science is doing much to remove that shroud.  For me, the first hint of a better deal came in the effort to medically control the blood supply of tumors, for kidney cancer is just such a vascular bloody mess. Then came targeted therapy– the drugs that specifically interfered with cell signals to impact upon cell nutrition, reproduction, and death.  I can hardly keep up with the flood of new knowledge nowadays, or the variety of drugs shown to be active in this disease: the nibs (sunitinib, sorafenib), mTOR inhibitors, bevacizumab. One now dares to anticipate combinations in the immediate future.

When the leadership of a country with vast resources declares a "War on Cancer" as national policy, you can't help but hope that others will do likewise for the benefit of all. Attaboy!– its pay-off time.

Toons by Buck Cash.

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