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Drug Combo For Recurrent Female Reproductive Cancers

May 2, 2009

Women who experience a second bout of uterine or ovarian cancer are in for some rare fortunate news.  New research reveals that treatment by combining chemotherapy drugs topotecan and docetaxel has proven effective in recurring episodes of these forms of cancer when treated by other drug combos during the initial occurrence, Reuters reported.

This drug regimen has never been tested in patients with female reproductive cancers until this study.  A report published in the journal Gynecologic Oncology also indicated that the study found that the combination of these two chemotherapy agents was considerably well tolerated. 

Senior author Dr. Mark H. Einstein, from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, said that although the study did not present a comparison group, earlier research has revealed that treatment responses in patients with these forms of cancer are usually much worse than seen here and with more serious side effects. 

Although recurrent gynecologic cancers are typically complicated to treat, often time topotecan and docetaxel are used for treatment in these cases, however not always in conjunction.  Docetaxel topotecan have been researched in previous studies, but the purpose in this study was to test whether dosing the two drugs on a weekly basis would maintain their benefits while reducing side effects. 

Fifteen women diagnosed with recurrent ovarian cancer, 9 with recurrent uterine cancer, and 3 with cancer of the tissue lining the inside of the abdomen, participated in the study.  All of the participants had been treated with chemotherapy regimens previously, and most had undergone two treatments. 

The participants agreed to a schedule during the course of the study that involved weekly dosing of topotecan and docetaxel for three weeks at a time, followed by a rest period of one week.  The process cycled six times unless the patient passed away or suffered severe side effects that warranted termination of the treatment. 

Of the total of 86 treatment cycles, only seven severe side effects resulted.  In most of these instances, the patients were able to continue treatment. 

Data from 24 patients was deemed eligible for analysis.  Findings of these patients showed that 6 had either a complete or full response to treatment and three had no worsening of their cancer.  However, cancer progression continued in the remaining 15 participants.  The common survival period was close to 19 months. 

The authors of this study emphasize that further research is necessary to clarify and prove these findings. 

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