High-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation is a treatment strategy that utilizes the administration of high doses of anti-cancer drugs for the purpose of killing cancer cells and infusion of stem cells to restore bone marrow blood cell production. It is important to understand that high-dose chemotherapy is the treatment of the cancer and damage to the bone marrow is a side effect. Stem cells are responsible for blood cell production and can be collected from the bone marrow or blood. Infusion of stem cells after chemotherapy allows for recovery of bone marrow blood cell production. High-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant is a standard treatment approach for many cancers and is being evaluated as treatment for ovarian cancer.
Since 1983, physicians in France have been evaluating high-dose chemotherapy as a treatment for ovarian cancer. The doctors from France recently presented their cumulative experience utilizing high-dose chemotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer. In this clinical study, 181 women with advanced stage III or IV ovarian cancer were treated with high-dose chemotherapy after primary debulking surgery and platinum chemotherapy for 6 cycles. Several different high-dose chemotherapy regimens were utilized. The treatment was reasonably well tolerated with a mortality rate of 2.5%. Patients have now been followed for over 3 years and at 5 years from initiation of treatment, 36% of patients survived and 23% survived without evidence of cancer progression. Patients who achieved optimal surgical debulking and were subsequently treated with high-dose chemotherapy had a 5-year survival rate of 51%.
The doctors in France concluded that high-dose chemotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer is feasible, safe, and may be superior to conventional chemotherapy treatment. In order to confirm whether high-dose chemotherapy is truly better than conventional chemotherapy treatment approaches, the doctors in France, as well as other countries, are currently conducting clinical trials which directly compare high-dose chemotherapy to standard or conventional-dose chemotherapy treatment programs. (
Bone Marrow Transplantation, Suppl No 102, Abstract 29)