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According to results presented at the plenary session of the 39th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the chemotherapy combination of Adriamycin® (doxorubicin)and Platinol® (cisplatin) improves survival compared to whole abdominal radiation therapy for the treatment of advanced endometrial cancer.

Cancer of the endometrium is characterized by the presence of cancer cells in the lining of the uterus, or womb. Treatment options for endometrial cancer depend on many factors, including the stage (extent of disease at diagnosis) of disease. When the stage of endometrial cancer is such that it has spread outside the area of the uterus to other parts of the body, the disease is sometimes referred to as advanced or metastatic. The optimal therapeutic approach for the treatment of stage IV endometrial cancer is still being evaluated in clinical trials.

A multi-institutional clinical trial was recently conducted to directly compare combination chemotherapy to whole abdominal radiation in the treatment of advanced endometrial cancer. This trial involved approximately 420 patients with stage III or IV endometrial cancer who had cancer the size of 2 centimeters or less following surgery. Patients were randomly selected to receive the chemotherapy combination Adriamycin®/Platinol® or whole abdominal radiation and were directly compared. Two years following therapy, overall survival was improved by 11% and cancer-free survival was improved by 13% in the group of patients treated with chemotherapy, compared to those treated with radiation. However, side effects were more common in the group of patients treated with chemotherapy.

The researchers concluded that Adriamycin®/Platinol® improves survival compared to whole abdominal radiation therapy in advanced endometrial cancer. However, over half of the patients experienced a cancer recurrence and improved treatments are clearly needed. Patients with advanced endometrial cancer may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of combination chemotherapy or the participation in a clinical trial evaluating novel therapeutic approaches. Sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov).

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Reference: Randall M, Brunetto G, Muss H, et al. Whole abdominal radiotherapy versus combination doxorubicin-cisplatin chemotherapy in advanced endometrial carcinoma: A randomized phase III trial of the Gynecologic Oncology Group. Proceedings from the 39th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Plenary Session. May 2003. Abstract #3.