New Treatment for Ovarian Cancer Looks Promising
A new treatment approach for metastatic ovarian cancer has been under development through the joint efforts of the University of Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska University Hospital. The scientists believe the innovative radiotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer shows a great deal of promise.
Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer among women. According to the American Cancer Society, about 21,550 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in 2009, and about 14,600 women will die of the disease. The cancer develops primarily in older women, with about half of women diagnosed with the disease being 60 or older.
Because ovarian cancer rarely causes symptoms (e.g., bloated abdomen, bloating) until the tumor has grown to a substantial size and begun to spread, many cases of ovarian cancer are detected too late for surgical treatment alone and so require chemotherapy. Currently, the main treatment options for women who have ovarian cancer are surgery and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is used primarily for recurrent cancer. Other potential treatments under evaluation include bone marrow
The new therapy under investigation by the Swedish scientists involves injecting the patient through the abdominal cavity with a radioactive isotope that is bound to carrier molecules. This molecular complex is able to bind to structures on the surface of ovarian tumor cells, at which time the isotope releases alpha particles that have a very short range, allowing them to destroy only the DNA in the nearest tumor cells.
The goal of this initial patient study, which included nine women who have ovarian cancer, was to evaluate the substance’s distribution in the body and whether it caused any side effects. The researchers found that a sufficient amount of the molecular compound reaches the ovarian tumor cells without causing any measurable adverse effects.
In previous studies which involved mice with ovarian cancer, this type of radiotherapy resulted in a cure without serious side effects. Because of those results, and the findings of the current study, investigators are hopeful this treatment option will prove successful in women. They have planned a subsequent study that will include 80 women with ovarian cancer who will receive this new treatment along with their ordinary treatment.
American Cancer Society
Andersson H et al. Journal of Nuclear Medicine 2009 Jul; 50(7): 1153-60