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MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., May 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Novartis drug Afinitor® (everolimus) for the treatment of advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.  Neuroendocrine tumors make up less than five percent of all pancreatic cancer diagnoses and are generally slower growing and less aggressive than the more common form of pancreatic cancer, pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

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"The FDA approval of Afinitor to treat pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors is welcome news for the pancreatic cancer community. For decades, treatment options for this insidious disease have been limited.  We are thrilled that patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors now have another option when planning their course of treatment," stated Julie Fleshman, President and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  

Afinitor® underwent rigorous clinical trials to determine the safety and effectiveness of the drug in this specific cancer type.  It was previously approved to treat other cancer types, but needed to prove effective in patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.  To this point, treatment options for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors have not been well-established.  Patients have historically been treated with surgery, chemotherapies, and/or radiation.  In contrast to these treatment modalities, Afinitor® is a targeted therapy designed to attack specific proteins that are necessary for the growth of cancer cells.

"The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network encourages all patients to consider clinical trials when exploring treatment options. Clinical trials are a vital part of the research process and development of effective treatment options that will increase the survival rate of pancreatic cancer patie

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