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According to the results of a Phase II clinical trial, treatment with the chemotherapy drug Alimta® (pemetrexed) reduced the extent of cancer in some women with recurrent, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. These results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer-related death in the United States. Initial treatment often includes a platinum-based chemotherapy regimen.

Women who experience cancer progression during or within six months of treatment with a platinum-based chemotherapy regimen are considered to have platinum-resistant cancer. New approaches to the treatment of platinum-resistant cancer continue to be evaluated.

Alimta is chemotherapy drug that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for selected patients with mesothelioma or non–small cell lung cancer.

To evaluate Alimta in the treatment of ovarian cancer, researchers conducted a Phase II clinical trial among 51 women. The women had ovarian cancer or primary peritoneal cancer that had progressed during treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy or recurred within six months. 

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Study participants received intravenous (IV) Alimta every 21 days. Treatment continued until the cancer progressed or until the patient experienced unacceptable side effects. Forty percent of the study participants received six or more cycles of treatment.

  • One patient (2%) experienced a complete disappearance of detectable cancer, and nine patients (19%) experienced a partial disappearance of detectable cancer.
  • Median survival without cancer progression was 2.8 months.
  • Median overall survival was 11.4 months.
  • Serious (grade 3 or 4) side effects included low blood counts.

The researchers concluded that Alimta was generally well tolerated and active against recurrent, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. They note that Alimta warrants further investigation in this population.  

Reference: Miller DS, Blessing JA, Krasner CN et al. Phase II evaluation of pemetrexed in the treatment of recurrent or persistent platinum-resistant ovarian or primary peritoneal carcinoma: a study of the Gynecology Oncology Group. Journal of Clinical Oncology [early online publication]. March 30, 2009.

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