Rx May Lengthen Life with Cervical Cancer

Avastin improves survival of women with advanced cervical cancer

(RxWiki News) Good news has been released for women whose cervical cancer has spread, returned or no longer responds to therapy. A drug used for a number of different cancers may help these women live longer.

Women with advanced cervical cancer who received Avastin (bevacizumab) lived 3.7 months longer than patients who did not take the medication. An analysis of a large, randomized trial has revealed these findings.

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A network of researchers, led by the Gynecological Oncology Group (GOG), conducted the clinical trial known as GOG240.

“This is a landmark study because it introduces a new treatment paradigm for patients with cervical cancer,” Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD, professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Chicago, told dailyRx News. “This is the first in a long time that a new drug is introduced in the treatment of advanced cervical cancer that actually improves the survival.”

The study involved 452 patients in the United States and Spain who were diagnosed with cervical cancer that had spread (metastatic), had returned (recurrent) or no longer responded to treatment (refractory).

The goal of the trial was to learn about the effectiveness of chemotherapy combinations. Researchers sought to see if topotecan (Hycamtin) combined with paclitaxel (Taxol and Abraxane) was more effective than a combination of cisplatin (Platinol) and paclitaxel, and if the addition of bevacizumab to either regimen helped women live longer.

Study members were randomly assigned to one of four groups –two chemotherapy alone groups, or two chemotherapy plus bevacizumab groups.

Patients who received the chemotherapy regimens alone lived about 13.3 months, while women who took the chemotherapy with bevacizumab lived roughly 17 months.

 “The findings in this clinical trial are important because they are likely to change clinical practice and provide an opportunity to improve outcome in patients with recurrent cervical cancer who have previously had very limited treatment options,” GOG study chair, Krishnansu S. Tewari, MD, said in a statement.

Women taking bevacizumab experienced more serious side effects than those taking chemotherapy only. Side effects associated with bevacizumab included severe bleeding, wound healing problems, gastrointestinal perforations, cardiovascular problems, nervous system and vision problems, among others.

Bevacizumab is approved to treat advanced colorectal, lung and kidney cancers, as well as glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer.  

An estimated 12,000 women in the US will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year, and about 4,000 women will succumb to the disease.

This study was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Full data has been submitted to the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2013 Annual Meeting for presentation. All research is considered preliminary before being published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Review Date: 
February 14, 2013