Friday, 12 April, 2024
HomeEditor's PickBetter use of existing drugs boosts cervical cancer survival – UK study

Better use of existing drugs boosts cervical cancer survival – UK study

A recent British study has found that treatment with existing drugs before standard treatment for cervical cancer could lead to a 35% reduction in the risk of death or the return of the disease, according to the researchers.

The team had assessed whether a short course of induction chemotherapy (IC) – using a drug to destroy as many cancer cells as possible – before chemoradiation (CRT), could reduce rates of relapse and death.

After five years, 80% of those who received IC plus CRT – a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy – were alive and 73% had not seen their cancer return or spread.

In the standard treatment group, 72% were alive and 64% had not seen their cancer return or spread, The Independent reports.

Dr Mary McCormack, lead investigator of the trial from University College London Cancer Institute (UCL) and UCL Hospital (UCLH), said: “Our trial shows that this short course of additional chemotherapy delivered immediately before the standard CRT can reduce the risk of the cancer returning or death by 35%.

“This is the biggest improvement in outcome in this disease in more than 20 years.”

Cervical cancer is most commonly diagnosed in women in their early 30s, with around 3 200 new cases each year in the UK.

Since 1999, CRT has been the standard treatment, but despite improvements in radiation therapy techniques cancer returns in up to 30% of cases.

According to Cancer Research UK, which funded the study, the five-year survival rate for cervical cancer is around 70%.

Over 10 years, 500 patients took part in the Interlace trial at hospitals in the UK, Mexico, India, Italy and Brazil.

They had been diagnosed with cervical cancer which was large enough to be seen without a microscope but had not spread to other parts of the body.

Because the drugs required for IC, carboplatin and paclitaxel, are cheap, accessible and already approved for use in patients, the researchers say they could be incorporated into standard of care treatment relatively quickly.

Professor Jonathan Ledermann, senior author of the results from UCL Cancer Institute, said the findings were “an important advance in treatment”.

Dr Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, said: “Timing is everything when you’re treating cancer. The simple act of adding induction chemotherapy to the start of chemoradiation treatment for cervical cancer has delivered remarkable results in this trial.

“A growing body of evidence is showing the value of additional rounds of chemotherapy before other treatments like surgery and radiotherapy in several other cancers.”

The preliminary results were presented at the recent European Society for Medical Oncology congress in Barcelona.


ESMO article – Induction chemotherapy before CRT improves outcomes in locally advanced cervical cancer (Open access)


The Independent article – Better use of existing drugs increases cervical cancer survival, study suggests (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Meta-analysis finds HPV can help prevent return of cervical cancer


Two immune therapy studies show promise in advanced cervical cancer


New NHS screening test ‘has potential to eliminate cervical cancer completely’






MedicalBrief — our free weekly e-newsletter

We'd appreciate as much information as possible, however only an email address is required.