Two new cancer treatments for adults and paediatric patients approved

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This breakthrough brings us another step closer to winning the war on cancer.

Every day in Singapore, 35 people are told they have some form of cancer. Last year, it was reported that breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men are rising sharply in the country. Thankfully with better available treatment, cancer care and early detection, survival rates have dramatically increased. This is especially true in the case of breast cancer patients. And now, there are two new cancer treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) USA that brings us closer to eradicating cancer for good.

Introducing Vitrakvi and Xospata

new cancer treatments

Xospata is one of the two new cancer treatments swiftly approved by the FDA | Source: Xospata

Vitrakvi is a treatment for cancers with a specific genetic feature (NTRK) in both adults and paediatric patients. Yes, it works for kids too. 

Usually, we identify and administer treatment for cancer based on where on the body the cancer is affecting a patient, e.g. breast cancer care for only breast cancer. Viktravi is different because it works on any part of the human body, as long as this specific mutation causes the cancer.

Xospata on the other hand, treats adult patients who suffer from relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia, specifically the FLT3 mutation. What this science speak means is, Xospata  is similar to Viktravi in targeting the mutation directly. The FDA also approved the diagnostic tool used to detect the FLT3 mutation.

This approval from the FDA, which took only six months, marks the medical industry’s shift to treating cancers on its tumour genetics, instead of what part of the body the cancer came from.

Viktravi cures two year old girl born with tumour on her arm

Rihanna, two years old, was born with a rare, enormous tumour mass on her arm. No one knew what to do to treat Rihanna. Chemotherapy did not help either.

Rihanna’s family were referred to clinical trials of Viktravi. She needed to take two doses of syrup, once in the morning and another at night. She surprisingly liked the taste.

Miraculously the tumour started shrinking after three days of consuming the medicine. With the tumour shrunk, surgeons could now remove the tumour. Removing the tumour without shrinking it first would have left Rihanna with a forearm and hand that can’t be used correctly.

These new cancer treatments don’t come cheap

Before we can use Viktravi, the doctors need to diagnose the problem with a genetic test. This test aims to find out if the patient’s cancer has a specific genetic feature (NTRK). This test is expensive and you insurance may not be cover it. 

The actual medication itself costs a whopping US$393,600 (about S$540,000) a year. The paediatric syrup formulation costs US$11,000 (about S$15,000) a month.

Go for a free cancer screening

new cancer treatment

The Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) aims to to minimise cancer and maximise lives through effective programmes | Source: SCS

Some cancers are treatable and curable when detected in its early stages, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer and colorectal cancer. When symptoms occur, the cancer has already spread to an advanced stage.

Go for free cancer screening at the Singapore Cancer Society Clinic in Bishan. The clinic is equipped with mammogram, pap smear and faecal immunochemical tests (FIT). Make an appointment or learn more by calling 1800-727-3333.

Address:
9 Bishan Place Junction 8 Office Tower, 
#06-05, Singapore 579837 

Operating hours: 
Mondays to Fridays, 9.00am to 6.00pm (last appointment at 5.15pm) 
Saturdays, 9.00am to 4.00pm (last appointment at 3.15pm)

Source: CNN, NBC, Singapore Cancer Society

Read also: This three-year-old is probably the youngest breast cancer survivor in Asia

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Written by

Nicholas Yong