According to a recent article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the addition of Taxol® (paclitaxel) to cisplatin (Platinol®) improves survival in patients with advanced cervical cancer.
The cervix is a glandular organ that is located at the bottom of the uterus. Due to routine screening methods for cervical cancer in the United States, cervical cancer is often diagnosed in early stages, prior to the spread of cancer, and cure rates remain high. However, some patients are diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer, where the cancer has spread to several and/or distant sites in the body (stage IVB), or experience a cancer recurrence following initial therapy. Currently, there is no standard chemotherapy regimen for patients with stage IVB or recurrent cervical cancer. Cisplatin is a commonly used agent for treatment of these stages of disease and researchers continue to evaluate and compare different chemotherapy regimens for these patients.
Researchers affiliated with the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) recently conducted a multi-institutional clinical trial to directly compare cisplatin alone to Taxol® plus cisplatin in the treatment of patients with stage IVB or recurrent cervical cancer. This trial included 264 patients, half of whom were treated with cisplatin alone and the other half of whom were treated with Taxol®/cisplatin. Overall anti-cancer response rates were 36% in patients treated with Taxol®/cisplatin, compared with only 15% in patients treated with cisplatin alone. Progression-free survival was 4.8 months for patients treated with Taxol®/cisplatin, compared with only 2.8 months for those treated with cisplatin alone. The average duration of survival was similar: 9.7 months for patients treated with Taxol®/cisplatin and 8.8 months for patients treated with cisplatin alone. However, longer follow-up may reveal long-term differences in overall survival. Quality of life scores were similar between the two groups of patients, although patients treated with Taxol®/cisplatin experienced a higher rate of low red blood cell and white blood cell levels.
The researchers concluded that the chemotherapy combination consisting of Taxol®/cisplatin is superior in terms of anti-cancer response rates and progression-free survival compared to cisplatin alone, without compromising a patient’s quality of life. Patients with advanced or recurrent cervical cancer may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating Taxol®/cisplatin or other novel therapeutic approaches. Sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov).
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Reference: Moore D, Blessing J, McQuellon R, et al.
Phase III Study of Cisplatin With or Without Paclitaxel in Stage IVB, Recurrent, or Persistent Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Cervix: A Gynecologic Oncology Group Study. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2004;22:3113-3119.