Sometimes the best drug for a disease is one that’s already on the shelf, and that was the finding of a British cervical cancer trial that looked to see if a chemotherapy drug given at a specific time could increase survival rates.
Indeed it could, with the 35% reduction in mortality rate hailed as ‘remarkable’ by Cancer Research UK which funded the trial presented at the recent ESMO medical conference in Madrid.
Not nearly as prevalent a risk as breast cancer, around 14,000 cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year in the US, according to estimates from the American Cancer Society.
In the trial of 500 female patients aged between 26 and 72, the scientists randomized them into two groups that received either chemoradiation therapy alone, or induction chemotherapy with a combination of the chemo drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel followed by the same chemoradiation therapy in week 7.
“Timing is everything when you’re treating cancer,” said Dr. Iain Foulkes, from Cancer Research UK, in a statement. “A growing body of evidence is showing the value of additional rounds of chemotherapy before other treatments like surgery and radiotherapy in several other cancers.
“Not only can it reduce the chances of cancer coming back, it can be delivered quickly using drugs already available worldwide.”
At the end of a 5-year follow-up, 80% of the women who received the combination chemo-drug/radiotherapy were still alive, and in 73%, the cancer had not returned.
The conclusion of the trial was a bold one—that this combination of drugs and chemoradiation therapy should be established as the new standard of treatment.
Dr. Mary McCormack, lead investigator of the trial from University College London Cancer Institute said that this was the biggest improvement in survival/remission outcomes in this disease seen in the 21st century.
“The important thing here is that if patients are alive and well, without the cancer recurring at five years, then they are very likely to be cured, so that’s what makes this very exciting,” McCormack told the BBC.
SHARE This Exciting Advancement In The Standard Of Care On Social Media…