Rx Combo Showed Promise for Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer treatment using irinotecan with bevacizumab produced encouraging results

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Ovarian cancer is the second most common cancer of the female reproductive organs. It's common for this cancer to return after initial treatment, but two therapies used together may help fight this cancer.

Irinotecan is a chemotherapy medication commonly used to treat colon or rectal cancer, but some doctors may prescribe it for ovarian cancer as well. It is often used in combination with other therapies.

Bevacizumab is a newer type of targeted ovarian cancer treatment that can shrink or slow growth of tumors. A new study found that combination treatment with irinotecan and bevacizumab may be effective in treating advanced stage ovarian cancer.

"Ask an oncologist about the newest medications for advanced ovarian cancer."

Amy Tiersten, MD, associate professor in the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology and a member of the Breast Cancer Medical Oncology Program, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, led the research to evaluate the dual treatment in women with recurrent ovarian cancer.

Irinotecan works by blocking an enzyme, leading to cancer cell death. Bevacizumab helps block cancer cell signals meant to produce new blood vessels that may feed new tumors.

Initially, 29 individuals with a median age of 60 signed up for the regimen. They were given doses of irinotecan (brand name Camptosar or CPT-11) plus bevacizumab (brand name Avastin) until the disease progressed or the toxicity was determined to be too great.

Of the 24 participants who completed the study, eight had a partial response, 13 remained stable with no progression of the disease and three progressed in their disease.

The authors noted that the observed response rate was 27.6 percent, and the clinical benefit rate was 72.4 percent.

Twelve patients—half of those who completed the study—had a sustained response that went beyond six months. The average amount of time before the disease progressed in a patient was 8.1 months.

Patients experienced side effects from treatment, the most common being diarrhea, but none were beyond the expected. Scientists recorded no treatment-related deaths.

"Our findings give hope to women with recurrent, advanced-stage ovarian cancer,” said Dr. Tiersten “The combination showed encouraging results in heavily-pretreated patients with this recurrent disease. This trial proves the effectiveness of this combination, and provided valuable information on the management of side effects.”

Primary treatment of ovarian cancer often consists of surgery followed by platinum-based therapy, but recurrence occurs about 80 percent of those diagnosed initially with advanced-stage disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The study was presented at the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting May 30 to June 3, 2014 in Chicago.

Review Date: 
May 30, 2014
Last Updated:
June 2, 2014