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Medicineworld.org: Ovarian cancer drug: promising new treatment

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Ovarian cancer drug: promising new treatment




Irvine, Calif. Women with recurrent ovary cancer can be helped by an experimental treatment using a drug already touted for its ability to fight other cancers, a finding that provides hope for improved therapy of this deadly disease.

Dr. Bradley Monk, a UC Irvine gynecologic oncologist who led the worldwide phase III clinical trial, said trabectedin is the most recent addition to a short list of active drug therapies for recurrent ovary cancer. He presents study results Sept. 15 at the 33rd Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology in Stockholm.



Ovarian cancer drug: promising new treatment

"These are exciting results because positive trials in recurrent ovary cancer are rare and have almost always led to federally approved therapys," said Monk, an associate professor who studies and treats ovary cancers at the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UC Irvine. "This therapy undoubtedly will be reviewed carefully by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and, if approved, will give women with ovary cancer another much needed option".

Phase III studies are multicenter trials on large patient groups designed to be the definitive assessment of a drug's effectiveness. Such a study is often the last step before a drug is evaluated by a regulatory agency like the FDA for approval as a safe, effective therapy.

In this trial, an international group of scientists treated 672 women whose ovary cancer had progressed after first-line therapy. Half the women received a combination treatment of trabectedin and a chemotherapy drug called pegylated liposomal doxorubicin. The other half received the chemotherapy drug alone, which is standard therapy in these cases.

In patients on the combination treatment, scientists found no progression of the cancer for an average of 7.3 months, as in comparison to 5.8 months for those treated with the single drug. For those who had relapsed more than six months after the first-line treatment, the median progression-free time was 9.2 months for the combination therapy, as in comparison to 7.5 months for the other patients.

Under the brand name Yondelis, trabectedin is approved in Europe and South Korea for treating advanced soft tissue sarcoma. In addition to the phase III ovary cancer trial, it is being studied in smaller, phase II trials for prostate, breast and pediatric cancers.

Trabectedin is a synthetic version of a compound isolated from the sea squirt, a tubular sea animal used in many medical studies. It binds to the DNA of a cancer cell and blocks its ability to multiply, thus killing the cells and shrinking tumors.

When ovary cancer is detected early when it is confined to the ovaries more than 90 percent of women will live at least five years, as per the American Cancer Society. Only about 20 percent of cases are detected that early. If the cancer is detected after it has spread, only about 30 percent of women survive five years. Each year, approximately 20,000 American women are diagnosed with ovary cancer and about 15,000 die of the disease.


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Irvine, Calif. Women with recurrent ovary cancer can be helped by an experimental treatment using a drug already touted for its ability to fight other cancers, a finding that provides hope for improved therapy of this deadly disease. Dr. Bradley Monk, a UC Irvine gynecologic oncologist who led the worldwide phase III clinical trial, said trabectedin is the most recent addition to a short list of active drug therapies for recurrent ovary cancer. He presents study results Sept. 15 at the 33rd Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology in Stockholm.

Medicineworld.org: Ovarian cancer drug: promising new treatment

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