Jan 22, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Ovarian cancer treatment underused: research

Aug 04, 2015 10:34 PM EDT

Less than half of women suffering from ovarian cancer who are qualified to get combined chemotherapy treatments only receive it, experts revealed.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, was a collaborative effort of six leading cancer institutes, including The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James).

The statistics of those who receive the said treatment is quite disappointing. "It's very unfortunate, but it's the real world," Dr. Maurie Markman, the president of medicine and science at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, quipped.

There are varying reasons why this kind of treatment is underused by patients. For one, it is difficult to use compared to intravenous therapy. There are even doctors who do not believe that it would help their patients. Some even label it as too toxic or dangerous. Others avoid it because it is expensive. It is also tedious to administer and because it uses a generic medicine, doctors opt it out of their choices because the treatment makes them a little money.

After checking the medical records of around 800 women with stage III ovarian cancer from 2003 until 2012, 81 percent of those treated with dual therapy prolonged their life by three years after treatment, while 71 percent of those who received IV chemotherapy alone survived. Only 41 percent of the patients who were allowed to take the therapy actually got dual therapy, the researchers found.

With the higher number of patients who survived with the dual therapy, experts believed that more ovarian cancer patients should consider taking this option. "Patients should be aware that this therapy represents a very effective option and should remain motivated to proceed, if it is recommended to them by their gynecologic oncologist," Dr. Eva Chalas, chief of gynecologic oncology at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., explained.

Dr. Kit Cheng, a cancer specialist at North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute in Lake Success, N.Y., that more clinical trials should be conducted to "shed more light to the best treatment to improve the survival of our [ovarian cancer] patients with the least amount of side effects."

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