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New leukaemia drug kills 90% of the cancer in its first dose

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : April 29, 2015 10:36 PM IST

A revolutionary leukaemia drug has given hope to patients as it kills nearly 90 per cent of their cancer in the first dose. Gazyva, which so powerful it can send patients into shock, comes with a whopping 42,000 dollar bill, reported.

Though the drug has been approved for use in Australia but not yet subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and has some serious side effects including increased risk of infections, including lower white blood cell counts and reduce the ability of the blood to clot, fever, cough, and muscle and joint pain. (Read: Cancer terms: Leukaemia to Oncology)

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year showed Gazyva delayed the progression of the cancer in patients using the drug in combination with an older chemotherapy by 26.7 months, 15 months longer than progression free survival in patients using standard treatment. (Read: Mutations causing leukaemia exist in most elderly)

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What is leukaemia?

White blood cells (leukocytes) form part of the body s immune system and help defend the body against infection. Cancer of these blood cells is known as leukaemia, commonly called blood cancer . Based on the type of white blood cells that are affected and the rate at which they develop leukaemia is classified as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). CML is the commonest adult leukaemia in India.

Genes, diet, hormones, exposure to high levels of radiation or chemicals such as benzene, chemotherapy drugs (to treat another cancer), pre-existing blood disorders and smoking could act as risk factors. Children with chromosomal abnormalities (Down s syndrome, Fanconi s anaemia) have also been reported to be at a higher risk of developing leukaemia.

Leukaemia usually does not present with any symptoms at first and may be diagnosed by chance during a blood test. Lymph node biopsy in acute leukaemia establishes how far the leukaemia has spread. Acute leukaemia requires immediate treatment because it progresses rapidly and aggressively. Chronic leukaemia progresses slowly over the course of many years. The most effective method of treating leukaemia is chemotherapy. Read more about Leukaemia the blood cancer

With inputs from ANI

Photo source: Getty images

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