(CNN) – A promising new study may help save the lives of some cancer patients.
It has to do with taking two medicines together: ibrutinib and rituximab.
According to the research — patients suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia, who take the drug combination, reduce their risk of death by 83 percent.
That’s compared to traditional chemotherapy.
The two medicines also lower the risk that the cancer will get worse. Researchers say the drug combination doesn’t attack the immune system like chemo.
The interim analysis of the clinical trial found that chemotherapy was better at reducing residual cancer cells in patients. So the medications would have to be taken indefinitely.
The medicines also come with risks — like irregular hear beat and high blood pressure. And can be pretty pricey.
Still, the findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine are giving cancer patients new hope, and potentially a new course of treatment.
Researchers also say they’ll continue working on other drug combinations that could be a better alternative to chemotherapy, ideally one that will not have to be taken indefinitely.
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