A combination of the drugs Tecentriq (atezolizumab) and Avastin (bevacizumab) improves the survival time of people with the most common form of kidney cancer, hepatocellular cancer (HCC), according to a study published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Hepatitis infection (B or C) is a risk factor for the development of HCC. Most cases of HCC occur in undeveloped countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, because of the frequency of hepatitis B infection in those areas. But the rates of HCC in developed countries is also on the rise, due perhaps to the increase of hepatitis C of late. It accounts for more than 660,000 deaths each year globally.
The NEJM article in May reported on a study of the Tecentriq/Avastin drug combo that involved 501 people who had advanced or inoperable HCC. Some of them received the combo, others received the standard treatment, Nexavar (sorafenib).
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More than two thirds (67.2%) of the patients who received the combo were still alive a year after the trial began. The survival rate for those taking Nexavar was only 54.6%. The better survival rate was also, the study found, consistent with the maintenance of a high quality of life.