Docs focus on immunotherapy at cancer meeting

June 4, 2010

These treatments involve new compounds designed to harness the body's own immune system against cancer.

This category also included therapeutic vaccines designed to stimulate the immune system to attack malignant cells.

Just last month the first vaccine for cancer, Provenge, was approved for men with advanced prostate cancer.

Also, ASCO and the Food and Drug Administration announced a joint program to help make it easier for doctors and patients who are out of options to gain access to experimental medications.

Getting through the regulatory maze of compassionate use drugs can be difficult. Doctors can now access a step by step guide that simplifies the process.

Richard Schilsky, an oncologist with the University of Chicago Medical Center, says this is an option many people don't know exists.

"It may be that the trials are no longer going on but patients would still benefit by gaining access to the drug. That's the gap we are trying to fill by enabling patients to get these drugs if they are made available by the commercial sponsor by simplifying the regulatory and paper work maze they have to go through to get the drugs," said Dr. Richard Schilsky.

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