Bangkok, Thailand “Liver Cancer” is one of the leading health crises in Thailand and around the world. Statistics reveal that liver cancer has the highest fatality rate out of all cancers in Thailand, with over 23,000 deaths recorded on an annual basis. This amounts to an alarming 2.6 Thai lives lost every hour, which is set to continue an upward trajectory. Liver cancer is up to 2.3 times more common in men than women; with leading causes attributed to Hepatitis B and C infections, as well as other high-risk habits such as consuming fatty foods, which can lead to fatty liver disease, excessive alcohol consumption and consuming raw food. Despite its high mortality rate, recent advancements in medical innovations and treatment of liver cancer has played a significant role in helping to delay the progression of the disease, which subsequently leads to an increase in overall survival rate for patients.
Dr. Suebpong Tanasanvimon, Assistant professor, Medical oncology unit, Department of Medicine King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital stated: “A common type of liver cancer that is found in the liver cells is called hepatocellular carcinoma. Today, the most common type of treatments of unresectable or metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma include - chemotherapy through intravenous (IV) infusion and direct administration of chemotherapy on the cancer tumor, radiation, as well a targeted cancer drug to increase the precision of the treatment. This targeted cancer drug is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor which comes in tablet form for oral consumption. However, health care innovations are improved continuously to find better solution or treatment which enhance quality of life and increase the chance of life expectancy for patients.”
Although liver cancer has a high mortality rate, early diagnosis can help inhibit the progression of the cancer and subsequently increase the life expectancy for patients with unresectable or metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma. The Food and Drugs Administration of Thailand (FDA) has recently approved a new innovative treatment in August 2020. The new treatment is the first treatment in over a decade that demonstrated statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in the overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS), when compared to the targeted cancer drug that is currently used to treat unresectable or metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma with tyrosine kinase inhibitor that comes in tablet form and ingested through oral consumption.
The innovative treatment is a cancer immunotherapy regimen, which utilizes immunotherapy in combination with an anti-angiogenesis drug, in which both of these drugs are administered via intravenous infusion. Scientific studies have clinically proven that the utilization of this immunotherapy regimen has shown significant improvements in the efficiency of the body’s immune system to combat a range of cancers. In this case, the immunotherapy drugs can enhance the immune’s system ability to fight cancer cells, while the anti-angiogenesis drug is designed to interfere with the blood supply of the cancer cells, which in turn inhibits their ability to grow. Therefore, this immunotherapy regimen can reduce the risk of death (Overall Survival; OS) and reduce the risk of disease worsening or death (progression-free survival; PFS) by up to 42% and 41% respectively, when compared to the standard tyrosine kinase inhibitor drug. Thus, the use of this immunotherapy regimen is subjected to the discretion of the treating medical practitioner as well as being under close supervision of a doctor to ensure the treatment is appropriate and safe for the patients.
Associate Professor Dr. Ekaphop Sirachanan, President of the Thai Society of Clinical Oncology (TSCO) stated: “The recent findings on the efficacy of the immunotherapy regimen, using a combination of immunotherapy drugs and anti-angiogenesis drugs to treat liver cancer is considered a positive discovery that will help to expand treatment options for liver cancer patients; allowing for a more efficient treatment and better outcomes. Thereby, the accessibility of this new treatment will play a vital role in improving the quality of lives, as well as helping to increase the overall survival rate for patients in the future.”
“Currently, the Thai Society of Clinical Oncology (TSCO) is collecting data via our studies on the efficacy and safety of the new treatment, along with the subsequent effects on patients’ quality of lives, and potential financial burden. In partnership with Roche Thailand, we are committed to granting patient access to this treatment between its official registration in Thailand. In addition, we are hopeful that the data collected can be used to support future patient access and reimbursement schemes, so that patients can continue to access appropriate and effective treatment in the long run,” Dr. Suebpong Tanasanvimon, Assistant Professor, Medical oncology Unit, Department of Medicine King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital said in a closing statement.
The immunotherapy regimen, which utilizes immunotherapy in combination with an anti-angiogenesis drug is a breakthrough advancement in medical innovation. The new treatment will play a crucial role in raising the standard of liver cancer treatment in Thailand, and subsequently enhance the quality of lives and increase overall survival rate for patients in the long run. For more information, please contact your doctor.
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