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According to a recent study published in the British Journal of Cancer, evidence suggests that treatment with Platinol® and etoposide may benefit patients with relapsed ovarian cancer previously treated with platinum therapy.

Ovarian cancer is a common malignancy occurring in women in the United States, with about 25,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The ovary makes female hormones and stores all the eggs that are released once a month during ovulation. There are two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The earlier ovarian cancer is detected, the higher the cure rate. Unfortunately, because ovarian cancer begins deep in the pelvis and often does not cause any symptoms until advanced stages, the disease often goes unnoticed until it has reached a stage where it is incurable. Most women with ovarian cancer have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis. This means the cancer has spread from the ovary to other body locations within the abdomen, such as the surface or inside of the liver, intestine, or lymph nodes.

Treatment for advanced ovarian cancer usually consists of surgery followed by a combination of chemotherapy agents including a taxane (paclitaxel or Taxotere®) and a platinum-based compound (Platinol® or Paraplatin®). However, the majority of women experience a return of cancer following initial treatment. Patients who experience a recurrence of cancer have limited treatment options, so researchers are evaluating different chemotherapy combinations in clinical trials in order to determine the most effective regimen.

Researchers in the Netherlands recently conducted a clinical trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of Platinol® and etoposide for the treatment of relapsed ovarian cancer previously treated with platinum-based therapy. This study included 98 women who were evaluated in three different groups based on the duration of time since they last received treatment. The time intervals were 12 or more months (38 patients), 4 to 12 months (32 patients), and 0 to 4 months (28 patients). All patients underwent weekly Platinol® and daily oral etoposide for 6 weeks. Patients with a treatment-free interval of 12 or more months experienced a 92% anti-cancer response rate (63% complete responses), average cancer progression-free survival of 14 months and an average survival of 26 months. Patients with a treatment-free interval of 4 to 12 months experienced a 91% response rate (31% complete responses), average progression-free survival of 8 months and an average survival of 16 months. In addition, patients with a treatment-free interval of 0 to 4 months experienced a 46% response rate (29% complete responses), average progression-free survival of 5 months and an average survival of 13 months. Side effects were notably mild and the treatment was well tolerated.

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These results indicate that Platinol® and etoposide may prolong life with few side effects for patients with recurrent ovarian cancer, offering another treatment option for these patients. Individuals with recurrent ovarian cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding the risks and benefits Platinol® and etoposide or about participating in a clinical trial. (British Journal of Cancer, Vol 86, No 1, pp 19-25, 2002)

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