The results from a recent phase 2 trial looked at the safety and effectiveness of sunitinib in kidney cancer patients who had previously been treated with immunotherapy combinations.

There were 21 patients in the study. All patients were treated with an immunotherapy combination and had stopped responding to this treatment. They then went on to have sunitinib (4 weeks on treatment, 2 weeks off treatment). For four patients (19%), their cancer responded to treatment with sunitinib by getting smaller. Additionally, 14 (67%) patients were stable on sunitinib and their cancer did not grow or shrink. There was a clinical benefit for 18 patients (85.7%).

For the four patients who responded to treatment with sunitinib, the average duration of this response was 7.1 months. The time to when the sunitinib stopped working and the cancer started growing again (progression-free survival) was 5.6 months. The average overall survival time was nearly 2 years. Patients who responded better to the immunotherapy combination in the first line had better survival with sunitinib.

The side effects were as expected for sunitinib, i.e., diarrhoea, taste changes, hand-foot syndrome and high blood pressure.

This study showed that sunitinib is effective and can be safely used as a second-line treatment option in patients with advanced kidney cancer whose cancer progresses after treatment with one of the new immunotherapy combinations.

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