Heated abdominal chemo bath improves ovarian cancer survival
A heated chemotherapy organ bath circulated throughout the abdomen after surgery can significantly prolong a woman’s survival with advanced ovarian cancer, according to doctors testing the new treatment.
Patients who underwent the experimental procedure at 8 hospitals in the Netherlands typically survived 45.7 months compared to 33.9 months for women who just received the tumor-removal surgery and conventional chemotherapy.
“For ovarian carcinoma, for the last 30 years there has not been a lot of improvement in overall survival, so with any treatment that shows improvement, we’re really excited about the results,” chief author Dr. Willemien van Driel of the Netherlands Cancer Institute told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.
The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, represents “the most convincing information to date” that the treatment “may provide a meaningful advantage for a defined group of patients with cancer,” according to an editorial by Drs. David Spriggs and Dr. Oliver Zivanovic of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
The test “is a very important first step but should not drive changes in practice yet,” they said.
It is not clear, for example, how much of the improvement was caused by the chemotherapy itself or the fact that it had been warmed in hopes of making it more reactive with residual tumor cells.
Nor is it clear how much the procedure would add to the cost, said Spriggs and Zivanovic. The abdominal chemotherapy bath adds two hours to the time in the operating room.
But the side effects were minimal, said van Driel. “It’s a well-tolerated procedure.”
A similar procedure is already being used for colorectal cancer, she said.