A new method of delivering chemotherapy to ovarian cancer patients has been shown to significantly increase survival time, and may one day become available to NHS and health insurance patients across the UK.
Researchers have found that giving chemo drugs via direct injections into the abdomen can raise average survival times of women with a particular type of ovarian cancer from four to seven years.
Cancer of the ovary is the fifth most common cancer among women, and can affect women of any age. As the symptoms of ovarian cancer are vague it is often not diagnosed until the advanced stages, with a third only discovered as a result of a medical emergency.
According to the charity Target Ovarian Cancer, there has been no new life-extending treatment for ovarian cancer in over 20 years. If proven, the new research would be a major advance in the treatment of the disease.
Researchers from Pittsburgh University looked at survival rates in 400 patients, some of which who had a particular type of gene mutation making them more susceptible to ovarian cancer.
Half of the patients were given chemotherapy intravenously, and the other half was given chemotherapy using the new method via injection into the abdomen. Study leader Dr Thomas Krivak explained:
“It reaches the cancerous cells in a higher concentration than when it’s administered into a vein. This means that it can work more effectively.”
Writing in the British Medical Journal, the team found that the women with low levels of a particular protein called BRCA1 benefitted from the new method. The women given chemotherapy intravenously survived four years from diagnosis on average, whilst those given the abdominal injection survived for seven years.
However, among the women with normal or high levels of the BRCA1 protein, there was not a statistically significant difference between the two methods.
Dr Krivak said: “This type of administration of chemotherapy seems to have the greatest improvement in outcomes for women who have low levels of the BRCA1 protein.”
Scientists say that the study supports the testing of ovarian cancer patients for their BRCA1 status in the future. Dr Simon Mewman, head of research at Target Ovarian Cancer, said:
"The results from this clinical study are incredibly promising.”
For access to the latest medical technology, look for a health insurance policy with full cancer cover. Many policies will cover the licensed cost of drugs and procedures even if they are not approved by NICE.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013