New treatment shows promise against recurrent gynecologic cancers

Apr 21, 2009

(BRONX, NY) - Recurrent and metastatic endometrial and ovarian cancers can be notoriously difficult to treat: They have spread to other organs and typically have developed resistance to chemotherapy; and patients already heavily treated with chemotherapy may not be able to endure more chemo. Now, physicians at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have shown that a combination of two chemotherapy drugs not only produced clinical benefit for such patients but were also well tolerated. The findings are published online in the journal Gynecologic Oncology.

"Women with recurrent gynecologic cancers have often had multiple rounds of chemotherapy, which can cause to develop resistance to these drugs," says Mark H. Einstein, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics & gynecology and women's health at Einstein, who headed the study. "This resistance can make it difficult for doctors to devise a treatment protocol that will impact the cancers while avoiding the often-severe side effects that certain chemotherapy drugs can cause, particularly when patients have already been heavily pretreated with other anti-cancer drugs."

In previous clinical studies, the topotecan and docetaxel showed effectiveness when used separately against recurrent gynecologic cancers. The phase 2 trial conducted by Dr. Einstein and his colleagues─the first to evaluate the combination of the drugs for this purpose─involved 24 women with recurrent uterine, ovarian, fallopian or peritoneal cancers. The women were given the topotecan-docetaxel combination on Day 1 of the trial and then weekly for three weeks; after a one-week rest, the women received another three-week treatment cycle, ultimately undergoing six such treatment cycles.

Compared with previous clinical trials, an unusually high proportion of these women had been heavily pretreated with chemotherapy─yet nearly 40 percent of them experienced clinical benefit. In addition, the overall survival with the drug combination (median survival of 18.5 months) was higher than in previous phase 2 studies that evaluated the drugs when used singly. Finally, there were few and relatively mild side effects from the drug combination compared with toxicities observed in similar studies.

The trial's effectiveness and safety outcomes are "promising enough to justify a larger clinical study of this drug combination for with recurrent gynecologic cancers," Dr. Einstein says.

Source: Albert Einstein College of Medicine (news : web)

Explore further: Early hormone therapy may be safe for women's hearts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Investigational drug shows promise in ovarian cancer

Sep 15, 2008

An investigational drug that combats ovarian cancer by inhibiting the formation of new blood vessels has shown promise in a phase II trial, according to a presentation at the 33rd Congress of the European Society for Medical ...

Recommended for you

Cancer: Tumors absorb sugar for mobility

12 hours ago

Cancer cells are gluttons. We have long known that they monopolize large amounts of sugar. More recently, it became clear that some tumor cells are also characterized by a series of features such as mobility or unlikeliness ...

Early hormone therapy may be safe for women's hearts

21 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Healthy women at low risk of cardiovascular disease may be able to take hormone replacement therapy soon after menopause for a short time without harming their hearts, according to a new study.

User comments : 0