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Research Team Shows No Benefit to Weekly Treatments for Ovarian Cancer

Release Date: 04/13/2016

An article published in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine evaluated the role of administering a commonly used chemotherapy drug for ovarian cancer on a weekly basis as compared to every three weeks in the hopes of improving survival without disease progression.


Contrary to a previously published clinical trial from the Japanese Gynecologic Oncology Group, no additional benefit was seen from weekly administration. However, the lack of improvement may have been caused by the addition of a third drug, Bevacizumab, to the regimen. In those patients who did not opt to receive Bevacizumab, there appeared to be improvement in survival for the weekly regimen.


The team of researchers – which includes Paul DiSilvestro, MD, head of research with the Program in Women’s Oncology at Women & Infants Hospital and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University – are part of the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG). The study is named “Weekly vs. Every Three Weeks Paclitaxel and Carboplatin for Ovarian Cancer.”


“We knew that a dose-dense weekly schedule of the drug paclitaxel and the delivery of a second drug carboplatin every three weeks has been effective in treating women with ovarian cancer,” Dr. DiSilvestro notes. “This study was an effort to confirm those results seen in the Japanese study. Many oncologists do not use Bevacizumab in front-line treatment and support continued use of the weekly regimen.”


There were drawbacks to the weekly treatments, however. While fewer women receiving their medication weekly suffered from low white blood cell counts, there was a higher incidence of neuropathy. Cost is also a factor.


The Women & Infants research team concluded that there needs to be more effectiveness studies into the combination and timing of medications for women with ovarian cancer.


Dr. DiSilvestro is accepting new patients. For more information, call (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. A major 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 9th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first 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 Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); 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 Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.