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Friday, January 06, 2006

Abdominal Chemotherapy Extends Lives of Ovarian Cancer Patients

For women with advanced ovarian cancer, adding doses of chemotherapy delivered directly into the abdomen can help them survive up to 12 months longer, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Traditionally, women received only tumor-removal surgery followed by intravenous chemotherapy, but the study's results should change that, said Dr. Harrison G. Ball, chief of gynecologic oncology at the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Boston. His hospital participated in the study that consisted of 429 women and was supported by the National Cancer Institute.

The study included women with advanced ovarian cancer who had first undergone successful surgical removal of cancer cells. Following the surgery, the women underwent either traditional IV-only treatment or a combined treatment of IV and abdominal chemotherapy, known as IP, which is delivered through an intraperitoneal catheter that is surgically inserted into the abdomen.

"In our trial, women who received part of their chemotherapy via an IP route had a median survival time of 16 months longer than women who received only IV chemotherapy," said Dr. Deborah Armstrong in a press release from the NCI. She is the lead author of the study and a medical oncologist at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore.

New Recommendations for Cancer Patients

As a result, the NCI is changing its recommendations to state that women with advanced ovarian cancer who undergo effective surgery should receive a combination of IV and IP chemotherapy.

To achieve "effective" surgical results, Ball recommends that women recently diagnosed with the disease seek out gynecologic oncologists, who are the most skilled at surgically removing ovarian cancer cells.


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