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New treatment for giant-cell bone tumors shows promise

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

Denosumab, a drug that attacks proteins that help destroy bones, enhanced the bone health of 20 study participants who could have gotten a positive result for giant-cell bone cancer from a blood test screening. These findings appear in the American Association for Cancer Research's journal, Clinical Cancer Research.

Giant-cell bone tumors usually are not malignant, but the California researchers who authored this study say these tumors are only treatable with surgery, which isn't always effective. Sometimes, amputation is required to ensure these tumors won't ever spread.

According to the researchers, after they administered denosumab to their subjects for four weeks, 20 percent of them lost all but 10 percent of their giant-cell tumors, and bone matter grew back in 65 percent of patients who had lost bone cells due to their ailment.

"Radical surgery is currently the only treatment option," said Sant P. Chawla, director of the Santa Monica Oncology Center. "In our study, the use of denosumab allowed patients to avoid radical surgery and prevented recurrence. We hope that in the future, its use may make it possible to avoid surgery completely."

The National Center for Biotechnology Information says that the most frequently benign bone tumors to be detected by a blood test are osteochondromas, and they generally develop in individuals between 10 and 20 year old.

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