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July 31, 2018

FDA approves cancer treatment tested by Penn researchers

Azedra fights rare adrenal gland cancers through radiation

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Pheochromocytoma_cancer Creative Commons/Via Wikipedia

This micrograph shows pheochromocytoma, a neuroendocrine cancer that forms inside the adrenal gland.

Patients with adrenal gland cancers soon will have a new treatment option in their battle against the rare and highly-lethal diseases.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a radiation therapy drug that provides the first non-surgical treatment for the neuroendocrine cancers pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma.

The new radiotherapy treatment, branded Azedra by Progenics Pharmaceuticals, attacks the cancers with high, specifically-targeted doses. Previously, surgery marked the only option for patients.

Pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma tumors form inside and outside of the adrenal gland, respectively. The cancers are rare – only 650 to 2,500 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States.

Often times, the cancers cannot be treated surgically – and the survival rate is considerably low.

Each year, between 10 and 35 percent of such cases are deemed metastatic or locally invasive at diagnosis. The five-year survival rate of inoperable cases can be as low as 12 percent.

The treatment's approval was based on a multi-center trial conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center.

The trial found Azera provides a dual benefit to the patients. It both controls the tumor and the hypertensive symptoms associated with the cancers.

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