A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week found that administering the cancer drug paclitaxel weekly versus every three weeks does not prolong progression-free survival among patients with ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecological cancer, responsible for about 14,000 deaths in the United States annually. Paclitaxel, an anti-cancer chemotherapy drug, is commonly used to treat ovarian, breast, lung, pancreatic and other cancers. Weekly paclitaxel therapy has been shown to prolong survival among patients with early-stage breast cancer and those with metastatic breast cancer, but its effect in ovarian cancer was unknown.
Previous studies have shown that incorporating bevacizumab, a drug that slows the growth of new blood vessels, into the treatment regimen with paclitaxel prolongs PFS but not overall survival. Furthermore, encouraging clinical-trial results regarding treatment with dose-dense paclitaxel and bevacizumab in patients with ovarian and other cancers led to the design of the current study.
For this large, multinational study, investigators from the University of Alabama at Birmingham looked at the combined dose-dense weekly paclitaxel with bevacizumab. Overall, results show that a regimen of weekly paclitaxel did not prolong PFS as compared with a regimen of treatment every three weeks. Results also indicated patients that did not receive bevacizumab with a weekly dosage of paclitaxel saw a PFS that was 3.9 months longer than those receiving paclitaxel every three weeks.
A total of 692 patients with newly diagnosed, previously untreated ovarian cancer were enrolled from September 2010 through February 2012 at more than 209 clinics in the United States, Canada and South Korea.
“UAB was a lead enrollment site for this clinical trial and contributed significantly to the study and its conclusions,” said Warner Huh, M.D., director of the UAB Division of Gynecologic Oncology and senior scientist at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This additional piece of knowledge reaffirms UAB’s high level of commitment to ovarian cancer research and our patients.”
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is part of the National Cancer Institute National Clinical Trials Network. As a lead academic participating site, it has the opportunity to provide patients access to treatment options that they might not otherwise have.