According to a study conducted by the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, thalidomide(Drug information on thalidomide) (Thalomid) in combination with radiation therapy shows promise in treating malignant brain tumors. Study findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
Thalidomide is known to have antiangiogenic properties, said lead author Alfred Yung, MD, acting chairman of the department of neuro-oncology at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. In the study, 89 patients with glioblastomas were given thalidomide in combination with radiation therapy and compared to several hundred patients treated with standard chemotherapy (carmustine [BiCNU]) and radiation.
The survival difference between the two groups was not significant, and there were no major side effects with thalidomide. The most notable side effects were numbness in the hands and feet and fatigue (which is usually manageable).
"We think there is good potential for use of this drug, perhaps in combination with other antiangiogenic or cytotoxic agents, in the future," said Dr. Yung. "These malignant brain tumors are very vascular and very dependent on a good blood supply. Clearly, thalidomide can help cut off this supply."