Kidney cancer drugs in development could improve patients’ quality of life and allow more effective treatment, according to Professor Robert Hawkins of Manchester University.

Drugs such as sunitinib have represented a ‘step change’ in kidney cancer treatment in the past few years, but have a number of side effects, Professor Hawkins said. These can be significant, given that people take sunitinib for a year on average, but can be on it indefinitely, he added.

Professor Hawkins said that data on the developmental drug pazopanib suggested it had fewer ‘off-target’ effects than sunitinib: ‘Pazopanib is much more specific, which potentially leads to fewer side effects. There are two likely benefits. One is that it will lead to a better quality of life. Also, patients may tolerate the treatment at a fuller dose for longer.’

Promising data on regorafenib, another agent targeting the same receptor, were also presented at the conference.

Originally published in the December 2009 edition of MIMS Oncology & Palliative Care.