If you have cancer of the pancreas, kidney, or gastrointestinal tract, your healthcare provider may prescribe SUTENT, a chemotherapy medication. This product comes in the form of a capsule and is available in three strengths. It is taken once a day, with or without food. Common side effects include diarrhea, fever, and lack of energy.
What Is SUTENT?
SUTENT® (sunitinib) is a prescription chemotherapy medication approved to treat certain cancers of the kidney, pancreas, and gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It belongs to a group of medicines called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. SUTENT slows the growth of cancer cells; however, it is not a cancer cure.
SUTENT is made by Pfizer Italia S.r.l. and distributed by Pfizer Labs.
How Does It Work?
SUTENT works by blocking an enzyme in the body known as tyrosine kinase. This enzyme tells cancer cells to divide and grow. By blocking tyrosine kinase, SUTENT may slow or stop the growth of cancer cells, which can slow down how quickly the disease progresses.
Clinical Effects of SUTENT
SUTENT has been shown to extend survival in people with certain types of cancer in clinical trials. One measure of how well a cancer medication works is called "progression-free survival" (PFS). PFS is the period of time during treatment when the cancer does not get worse, or progress.
In clinical studies involving people with gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), a rare type of gastrointestinal cancer, people given SUTENT had an additional 18 months of PFS compared to people taking a placebo medication (a "sugar pill" with no active ingredients). Specifically, those taking SUTENT had 24.1 months without cancer progression, compared with 6 months for those taking the placebo. Everyone in the study had previously taken imatinib (Gleevec®) without an adequate response or could not take imatinib.
In clinical studies involving people with renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer), people given SUTENT had an additional 25 months of PFS compared to people taking a different chemotherapy medicine (interferon-alpha). Specifically, people taking SUTENT survived 47.3 months without disease progression, compared to 22 months for those taking the other chemotherapy medication.
In clinical studies involving people with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNET), a form of pancreatic cancer, people given SUTENT had 10.2 months of PFS compared to 5.4 months for people given a placebo.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
SUTENT [package insert]. Research Triangle Park, NC: GlaxoSmithKline;2010 April.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed October 9, 2011.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 8th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2008.
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