If you've been diagnosed with kidney cancer, there are multiple treatment options available, from surgery to chemotherapy. One type of treatment many patients are less familiar with is targeted therapy. However, despite being unknown to many, targeted therapy is an effective choice to consider.
Targeted therapy uses medication to change how cancer cells grow. Usually, the first targeted therapy drug you'll be given is a TKI (tyrosine kinase inhibitor), often known simply as a cancer growth inhibitor. Tyrosine kinase enzymes send messages to cancer cells telling them to grow and multiply, so blocking them can block the development of kidney cancer. Eventually, cells receiving no signal should grow old and die, shrinking or halting the tumour's growth.
If this is the treatment path you're going for, there are usually two main cancer growth inhibitor drugs on the table: sunitinib (brand name Sutent) or pazopanib (brand name Votrient). Both block enzyme signals, but they're not identical in their effects. Here's what you need to know about sunitinib vs pazopanib.
Sunitinib vs Pazopanib: Treatment Plan
One thing to note is that pazopanib has a simpler treatment plan than sunitinib. If you're on pazopanib, you'll take one tablet per day within one to two hours of eating. Pazopanib is taken consistently every day for as long as it works.
Sunitinib's treatment plan is slightly different. You still need to take one tablet per day, although it's up to you whether you take it with food. However, instead of taking it every single day, you'll take it on a cycle. Usually, this cycle involves taking sunitinib every day for 4 weeks, then not taking it for a 2-week rest period. After this 6-week cycle is over, the process begins again for as long as the drug is working.
Sunitinib vs Pazopanib: Efficacy
Sunitinib and pazopanib are very similar in their efficacy. In 2013, a trial was undertaken to test the two drugs head-to-head in 1110 patients with kidney cancer. The results showed a difference of approximately one month in both progression-free survival and overall survival, with patients who took sunitinib surviving around one month longer than those taking pazopanib. As such, your cancer survival rate will be around the same no matter which of these drugs you're on.
Sunitinib vs Pazopanib: Quality of Life
While these two drugs have very little difference in their effects, they do have a difference in the quality of life they bring you. The same study found that sunitinib had a higher rate of unpleasant side effects. For example, 63% of patients on sunitinib suffered from fatigue, while only 55% of patients on pazopanib experienced it. Patients taking pazopanib also had a significantly reduced chance of experiencing low platelet count (which causes excessive bleeding) and hand-foot syndrome (which causes swelling, pain and blisters on the hands and feet).
For more information on your kidney cancer treatment options, contact a medical centre near you.