The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new antiangiogenic drug — a therapy that blocks the growth of tumor blood vessels — to treat a rare type of thyroid cancer. The agent, called vandetanib, has been cleared by the FDA to treat medullary thyroid cancer that is progressing or that has spread (metastasized) to other organs of the body.  Vandetanib is the first drug to be approved for advanced medullary thyroid cancer.
Vandetanib’s approval is based on the results of a randomized phase 3 clinical trial that was conducted in 331 patients with inoperable locally advanced or metastatic medullary thyroid cancer. Patients who received vandetanib lived significantly longer without their disease getting worse, a benefit known as progression-free survival, compared to those who were received a placebo. Patients receiving vandetanib experienced a 65% reduction in the risk of their cancer getting worse compared with those in the placebo arm.
About 44,600 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year, and medullary thyroid cancer accounted for 3 to 5 percent of that figure.

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