In two recent studies, researchers looked at the drug bevacizumab (Avastin) to treat recurrent and newly-diagnosed ovarian cancer. Bevacizumab is a type of targeted therapy, a treatment that targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival.
One of these studies, called the OCEANS trial, showed that women with recurrent ovarian cancer (ovarian cancer that has come back after treatment) who took bevacizumab lived about four months longer without the cancer getting worse than women who received only chemotherapy. In addition, 79% of the women who received chemotherapy plus bevacizumab had their tumor shrink, compared with 57% of women who received only chemotherapy.
In the other study, called ICON7, 1,528 women with newly-diagnosed, high-risk or advanced epithelial ovarian, primary peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancer (cancers of a woman's reproductive system that are treated similarly) received chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy plus bevacizumab followed by bevacizumab alone for 12 months. After around two years, researchers found that the women with cancer that is most likely to recur and who received bevacizumab were 36% less likely to die from the disease than the women who received only chemotherapy.
What this means for patients
These studies show that bevacizumab can be an effective treatment for different stages of ovarian, primary peritoneal, and fallopian tube cancers. When discussing the OCEANS trial, lead author Carol Aghajanian, MD, Chief of the Gynecologic Medical Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City said, “Women taking bevacizumab lived for longer periods without the disease progressing and without having to go back on chemotherapy. This is good news for women with these cancers, as we are increasingly able to treat ovarian cancer as a chronic disease.”
Gunnar Kristensen, MD, PhD, one of the lead researchers of the ICON7 study and Senior Consultant in the Department for Gynecologic Oncology at Norwegian Radium Hospital in Oslo, Norway said, “Adding bevacizumab to the treatment regimen for women with newly-diagnosed ovarian cancer seems very promising, particularly for patients with a high risk of recurrence.”
Bevacizumab may only be available as a treatment for ovarian cancer in clinical trials. The questions listed below are a starting point to help you talk with your doctor about all your treatment options, including clinical trials.
Questions to ask your doctor
- What type of cancer do I have? What is the stage?
- What are my treatment options?
- Do you recommend a targeted therapy?
- What clinical trials are open to me?
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