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A phase III clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that women with advanced cervical cancer treated with a combination of cisplatin (Platinol®) plus topotecan (Hycamtin®) chemotherapy lived longer than women treated with cisplatin alone.

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, this disease is often diagnosed in early stages, prior to the spread of cancer. Thus, cure rates remain high. However, some patients are diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer, where the cancer has spread to distant sites in the body, or experience a cancer recurrence following initial therapy. Currently, there is no standard chemotherapy regimen for patients with advanced or recurrent cervical cancer. Researchers continue to evaluate and compare different chemotherapy regimens for these patients. Cisplatin is a commonly used chemotherapy drug for treatment of cervical cancer.

Researchers affiliated with the Gynecologic Oncology Group recently conducted a multi-institutional clinical trial to directly compare cisplatin alone to cisplatin plus topotecan in the treatment of patients with stage IVB cervical cancer. This trial included 294 patients, half of whom were treated with cisplatin alone and the other half of whom were treated with cisplatin plus topotecan. Women treated with cisplatin and topotecan lived longer and had higher response rates to treatment than women treated with cisplatin alone. Compared to women treated with cisplatin alone, women treated with cisplatin and topotecan were twice as likely to respond to treatment and survived for an average of three months longer. Women treated with cisplatin and topotecan, however, experienced more adverse effects of treatment, such as low white blood cell levels.

The researchers concluded that the chemotherapy combination consisting of cisplatin plus topotecan resulted in better anti-cancer response rates and longer survival than cisplatin alone. 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 cisplatin plus topotecan or other novel therapeutic approaches. Sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (

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Reference: Long HJ, Bundy BN, Grendys EC et al. Randomized phase III trial of cisplatin with or without topotecan in carcinoma of the uterine cervix: a Gynecologic Oncology Group study. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2005;23:4626-4633.