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Woman And Infants
Woman And Infants

Press Release

Improving Survival Rates for Women with Ovarian Cancer
12/02/2013

Richard G. Moore, MD, director of the Center for Biomarkers and Emerging Technologies and a gynecologic oncologist with the Program in Women's Oncology at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, is part of a team of researchers publishing an article this month on the use of a chemoresponse assay to guide the treatment of women with persistent or recurrent ovarian cancer.

The article was published in the November issue of the professional journal Gynecologic Oncology and illustrates how the team's use of a chemoresponse assay on tissue samples from ovarian tumors can help tailor the most effective treatment for them.

Dr. Moore, who is also a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and the team spent eight years studying the assay's effectiveness in choosing course of treatment in women with platinum-sensitive and platinum-resistant tumors. Such tumors do not respond to many types of treatment and are labeled "persistent," or they return after treatment, making them "recurrent."

The publication capped the release of the results of the eight-year study, which showed that women diagnosed with ovarian cancer who undergo cancer tumor testing to determine the best treatment have better survival rates than women who do not.

"We demonstrated that using a tissue sample from the woman's tumor and a chemoresponse assay can help us determine the best treatment for her," Dr. Moore says. "Such testing allows us to identify the chemotherapeutics that are active against the individual patient's disease and those that are not, which would result in decreased toxicity from ineffective treatments."

The use of such personal-directed therapies increases overall survival, making the results of this work by Dr. Moore and his team the first in two decades to show a significant impact on ovarian cancer survival. The work was key in light of the fact that epithelial ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer deaths in the United States.

"Despite the achievement of high response rates, improvements in survival with aggressive surgical debulking and the use of platinum/taxane combination chemotherapy, the disease recurs in the majority of the patients," Dr. Moore explains.

The study – which has also been published in the trade magazine Cure and presented at a meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology - was launched in 2004 and included 262 evaluable women. Their biopsies were successfully treated in vitro, or in a test tube. The assay ChemoFx® by Precision Therapeutics tested up to 15 approved treatment regimens on the samples, identifying chemotherapy drugs and regimens to which each tumor might be sensitive. The study was non-interventional, meaning that physicians chose the treatment regimens without knowing the assay results.

"The assay identified at least one treatment to which the tumor would be sensitive in 52% of patients in the study," Dr. Moore says. "At the same time, it is interesting to note that no single treatment accounted for more than 30% of the treatments assessed in this study, demonstrating the lack of a standard care in this patient population."

Median survival for the women in the study was 37.5 months for patients with treatment-sensitive tumors, compared to 23.0 months for intermediate and resistant tumors.

For more information on cancer treatment or appointments with Dr. Moore, call the Program in Women's Oncology at (401) 453-7520.

About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation's leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. The primary teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women's medicine, Women & Infants is the eighth largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country with nearly 8,400 deliveries per year.In 2009, Women & Infants opened the country's largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

New England's premier hospital for women and newborns, Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, women's mental health, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation's only mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation's only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Center of Excellence from the American College of Radiography; a Center for In Vitro Maturation Excellence by SAGE In Vitro Fertilization; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health; and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute's Gynecologic Oncology Group and the National Institutes of Health's Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.

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