Specialist treatment at Christie trial brings hope to kidney cancer patients
Press Release Posted 18 January 2011
A pioneering treatment is showing promising results for patients
battling advanced kidney cancer.
The disease is hard to treat when it has spread to other organs,
with survival rates less than 5%, but The Christie is spearheading
a specialist immunotherapy treatment which uses the body's immune
system to fight cancer cells.
The Journal of Immunotherapy has published results from 72
patients treated at the Christie over the last few years. These
show that with careful selection around one quarter (25%) of the
patients who were treated are now in complete remission after
taking high doses of the drug interleukin-2. Interleukins are
made in the laboratory to boost the immune system in cancer
The Christie's international kidney cancer specialist Professor
Robert Hawkins led the seven year study and said; "There have
been major improvements in the treatment of kidney cancer and
Interleukin is fairly toxic compared to some newer treatments so it
is important to assess its role.
"This series of patients shows that it can produce very
high-rates of response with long-term remissions in carefully
selected kidney cancer patients. Such long-term complete remissions
are very rarely seen with other treatments so we are very excited
with the excellent outcome.
"These results are achieved through an expert team of
pathologists, nurses, surgeons working together with the
oncologists. We are also working with researchers across the world,
looking at ways we can improve the effectiveness immunotherapy in
general so it can be used in a wider variety of cancers."
Andrea Spencer-Shaw, renal nurse specialist at The Christie said
"This it a difficult treatment for patients and we work together to
deliver it safely. It is very gratifying to see patients who had
advanced kidney cancer coming back free of all signs of disease and
leading a normal life without the need for long term
One patient who has benefitted from the trial is Heidi Morter,
41 from Northwich. The mum of three was diagnosed with kidney
cancer just months after getting married.
The disease spread to her liver and lungs and she assumed there
was no hope. After being transferred to The Christie she was
offered the chance to go on the trial.
Heidi said; "Because of my age and because I've always been fit
and healthy, Professor Hawkins thought the immunotherapy trial
could work for me and introduced me to another patient who had had
it and was in remission.
"I agreed to go on the trial straight away as I was eager to try
anything. I'm not going to say it was easy going and like any
sort of treatment there are side effects, but I was so happy when I
was told I was in remission. Professor Hawkins saved my life
and I am very grateful."
The Christie in Manchester is the largest single-site cancer
centre in Europe and an international leader in cancer. It
runs the largest early clinical trials unit in the world, with 200
trials being undertaken at any one time.
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