Vandetanib Approved for a Rare Thyroid Cancer04/07/11
THURSDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Vandetanib has been
approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as the first drug
to treat a rare form of thyroid cancer in its latter stages.
Medullary thyroid cancer accounts for 3 percent to 5 percent of
the estimated 44,600 cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed each year in
the United States, the FDA said in a news release. Typical symptoms
include coughing, difficultly swallowing, thyroid enlargement, neck
swelling, a lump on the thyroid and voice changes. Medullary
thyroid cancer may occur spontaneously or be related to a genetic
Vandetanib was evaluated in a study of 331 people with
late-stage medullary thyroid cancer. Average progression-free
survival among those who took the drug was 22.6 months, compared to
16.4 months among those who took an inactive placebo, the agency
Five people treated with the drug died from causes that included
respiratory problems, heart failure and a bacterial blood infection
called sepsis. Vandetanib also was shown to affect the electrical
activity of the heart, which could result in life-threatening
irregular heartbeat, the FDA said.
The most common side effects reported were diarrhea, rash,
nausea, high blood pressure, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite
and abdominal pain.
Vandetanib is produced by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, based in
To learn more about
medullary thyroid cancer, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
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