Trials Improve Ovarian Cancer Survival

A new way of using an old treatment is giving new hope to ovarian cancer patients - and doctors right here in Topeka were involved in testing it.

Fighting ovarian cancer has been an uphill battle for women and doctors. With no test for early detection, it's often not caught until it's advanced. Dr. Stanley Vogel of the Cotton-O'Neil Clinic says consequently, the mortality rate for ovarian cancer is fairly high and very few patients survive.

But Vogel and his fellow oncologists at Cotton-O'Neil Clinic are trying to change that. They were involved in clinical trials for a new method of treatment. Instead of giving chemotherapy drugs with a standard IV, they put them right into the abdomen.

Vogel says, in many cases, ovarian cancer remains confined to the inside of the abdomen, so the theory is that if you give the chemotherapy drugs directly to the abdomen, where the bulk of the tumor is, you can achieve higher concentration and have a better effect.

Study results recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine give weight to the theory. Patients who got the abdominal treatments lived an average of 16 months longer than women on traditional chemotherapy. Vogel says the success was seen using both older and newer chemotherapy drugs. He says it's the first time doctors have good evident that this should be standard treatment.

However, he admits it's not for everyone. He says because of the rigors of the treatment and complications and risk for side effects, women have to be in overall generally good medical condition.

Still, it's seen as a step forward. While it's not a cure, it is a way to buy women more time.

The Cotton-O'Neil oncologists are involved in trials involving several kinds of cancer. You can find out which trials are going on in our area at www.cancer.gov/search/clinicaltrials/. You may also call the local oncology research coordinator, Anita Leonard, RN, at 785-354-0540.


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