Cervical Cancer Treatment Halves Deaths

Cervical cancer is the second most common form of cancer found in women worldwide, and is the most common cancer among women in Africa, Asia and South America. Five new clinical studies all suggest that a new treatment regimen combining both chemotherapy and radiation therapy may markedly improve survival rates from this deadly disease.

Officials at the National Cancer Institute were so impressed with the “remarkably consistent” evidence of the regimen’s effectiveness that they agreed to announce the results weeks before their scheduled publication and sent letters to thousand of doctors, urging them to begin prescribing the new treatment. “We think the data are so compelling that this should change the way women are treated all over the country and indeed around the world,” said Edward Trimble, head of surgery for NCI’s therapy evaluation program.

Five separate studies compared the effectiveness of different combinations of chemotherapy and radiation. These tests were conducted on hundreds of patients whose cancer had spread beyond the cervix but not beyond the pelvic region.

Results from the studies showed that a combination of both chemotherapy and radiation reduced the risk of death by between 30% and 50% over time spans of from 3 to 8 years. The combination of radiation and chemotherapy using the drug cisplatin was the most effective.

Currently, patients diagnosed with surgical cancer are treated with either surgery or radiation or both, depending on how much the cancer has spread. Complete research reports based on the five studies will be published in March and April.


AP - February 22, 1999

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