KCC Launches Campaign for Second-Line Treatment in Atlantic Canada

Patients in Newfoundland and Labrador are the first in Atlantic Canada to have access to more than one targeted treatment

ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland – (June 21, 2011) – Newfoundland and Labrador has taken a major step forward in providing access to treatment for patients with advanced kidney cancer by becoming the first Atlantic province to grant coverage for Afinitor for second-line treatment. For the first time, residents of Newfoundland and Labrador with advanced kidney cancer will have access to a proven second treatment option when their initial treatment stops working.

In addition to Newfoundland and Labrador, Afinitor is reimbursed in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. Scientific research has proven that a treatment such as Afinitor works as a second-line drug because it targets the tumour’s blood supply in a different way than other treatments. Like with many other cancers, one treatment for kidney cancer most likely won’t be enough. A second-line treatment is often needed because the first one stops working – a situation that kidney cancer patient and Newfoundland and Labrador Director for Kidney Cancer Canada, Dan Mosher, has faced.

“I’ve personally gone through the terrifying experience of finding a treatment that works well and keeps you alive, and then all of a sudden it stops being effective and you don’t know what options you have left,” says Mr. Mosher. “We applaud the government of Newfoundland and Labrador for showing its commitment to kidney cancer patients. The funding of the second-line treatment option is a major step forward, and patients here now have among the best available drug access in Canada.”

Since January 2011, when a patient access program for Afinitor ended, patients in Newfoundland and Labrador not already on a second-line treatment had no funded access to any other targeted therapy when their first stopped working. Atlantic Canadian patients in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island still face this challenge, yet patients with other, more common types of cancer often have access to more than one treatment. This is particularly troubling since the incidence rate per capita of kidney cancer in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, is among the highest in Canada.

“Our hope is that the other Atlantic Provinces will follow the lead of Western Canada, Ontario and now Newfoundland and Labrador,” says Karen Ross, Director, Eastern Canada for Kidney Cancer Canada and caregiver to her husband David, a kidney cancer patient. “It’s crucial kidney cancer patients in the east have access to the treatment options they need to fight their disease most effectively.”

Options for Kidney Cancer Patients
Unlike most other cancers, kidney cancer does not respond to conventional therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiation, which makes access to sequential targeted treatments critically important for patients. Health Canada has approved five new targeted therapies for kidney cancer in the past five years, which has significantly changed the lives of people living with the disease. However, according to Dr. Joy McCarthy, Medical Oncologist and Director of Clinical Trials, Cancer Care Program, Eastern Health, the key to managing kidney cancer is ensuring patients and their physicians have access to all proven treatments so they can switch treatments when needed.

“It’s tremendous that we now have access to a second-line option to offer patients in Newfoundland and Labrador,” says Dr. McCarthy. “What will help patients even more is ensuring they and their physicians have access to all proven treatments.”

Visit http://www.kidneycancercanada.ca to find out more about how Canadians with kidney cancer and their friends and family can make their voice heard by encouraging provincial governments to help make access to more than one treatment a reality for kidney cancer patients fighting their disease.

About Kidney Cancer
In 2011, approximately 5,100 Canadians will be diagnosed with kidney cancer and 1,650 will die from the disease. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common form of kidney cancer in adults, representing about 80 per cent of all kidney cancer. The cancer is formed in the nephrons – the tiny tubes of the kidney that filter blood and produce urine. RCC accounts for two per cent of all cancer-related deaths. Approximately 25 per cent of people with RCC are initially diagnosed with advanced disease, including locally invasive or metastatic RCC. The five year survival rate for a patient diagnosed with metastatic (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) RCC has been less than 10 per cent. However, newer targeted treatments introduced since 2006 are radically changing the outlook for a cancer that was once one of the most difficult to treat.

Kidney Cancer Canada
Kidney Cancer Canada is the first Canadian-based, patient-led registered charity established to improve the quality of life for patients and their families living with kidney cancer. Kidney Cancer Canada advocates for access to new treatments, provides support and information to patients, funds much-needed research, and works to increase awareness of kidney cancer as a significant health issue. For more information, please visit: http://www.kidneycancercanada.ca.

For more information, please contact:
David Mircheff or Caitie Croza
Environics Communications
416-969-2776 / 416-969-2759
dmircheff@environicspr.com / ccroza@environicspr.com


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