Moffitt participated in clinical trial to find a better treatment for advanced ovarian cancer

January 18, 2006

Tampa, FL  – A study in New England Journal of Medicine reports that intraperitoneal chemotherapy (giving chemotherapy drugs directly into the abdominal cavity) can extend the survival of women with surgically debulked Stage III ovarian cancer by more than 16 months. The National Cancer Institute has changed its guidelines regarding the treatment of the disease. Robert Wenham, M.D., M.Sc., member of the Gynecologic Oncology Program and the Experimental Therapeutics Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute is principal investigator of the Gynecologic Oncology Group study at Moffitt.

According to Dr. Wenham, “Intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy should now be strongly considered in the care of women with newly diagnosed ovarian cancer. Although some controversies regarding IP chemotherapy still exist, it is difficult to dismiss the trend for improved survival among this and prior studies. To realize the benefits of IP therapy, aggressive surgery is needed to remove the vast majority of the cancer. This underscores the importance of having a fellowship-trained gynecologic oncology specialist as part of the initial surgery whenever ovarian cancer is suspected.”

An estimated 22,220 women in the United States were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2005. It causes more deaths in the United States than any other cancer of the female reproductive system, with an estimated 16,210 women dying from the disease in 2005. The most recent statistics show that only 45 percent of women survive five years after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer; the rate increases to 94 percent when the disease is diagnosed at an early stage. However, women with ovarian cancer frequently have no symptoms or only mild symptoms until the disease is advanced. As a result, only 19 percent of all cases are detected at that early, localized stage.

The Moffitt Cancer Center is a Parent Institution of the Gynecologic Oncology Group, the cooperative trials group responsible for this new study.

In 2001, the National Cancer Institute awarded Moffitt the status of a Comprehensive Cancer Center in recognition of its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country’s leading cancer centers, and is listed in the U.S. News & World Report as one of the top cancer hospitals in America. Moffitt’s sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.