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Experimental Immunotherapy Delays Recurrence for Stage III and IV Ovarian Cancers

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Key Points

  • About 80% of women treated for ovarian cancer relapse after their first treatment.
  • Patients who received standard-of-care treatment instead of the experimental immunotherapy experienced cancer recurrence in a median of 14.5 months.
  • Those who did receive the immunotherapy have not reached the median time to recurrence, and the majority of these patients are well beyond 14.5 months without relapse.

According to a phase II study presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer, an experimental immunotherapy is in the works that can target an individual woman’s ovarian tumor and extend the time period between initial treatment and the cancer’s return (Abstract 1).

“This is cutting-edge medicine for ovarian cancer,” said Jonathan Oh, MD, Gynecologic Oncologist at Texas Oncology, PA. Dr. Oh presented the results of the preliminary study on the immunotherapy injection.

Study Details

The phase II study included 31 women with stage III or IV ovarian cancer. Twenty received immunotherapy, and 11 did not. Among those who did not receive the immunotherapy, the disease returned in a median of 14.5 months. Those who did receive the immunotherapy have not reached the median time to recurrence, and the majority of these patients are well beyond 14.5 months without relapse.

The National Cancer Institute states that about 80% of women treated for ovarian cancer relapse after their first treatment.

“This immunotherapy may keep the cancer away longer,” said Dr. Oh.

The immunotherapy is considered “bifunctional,” as it works by targeting a biochemical pathway in cancer cells, as well as helping to stimulate the patient’s immune response to fight cancer.

During initial surgery to remove the ovarian tumor, sample cells were taken to develop the personalized immunotherapy. After the initial surgery, followed by standard-of-care chemotherapy, women received either one injection per month for 4 to 12 months, or were randomly assigned to standard of care.

“This was a preliminary study with promising results that may give women with advanced ovarian cancer an option for a maintenance regimen,” Dr. Oh said. “Additionally, the vaccine is very well tolerated.”

“The results from this clinical trial suggest that using a patient’s immune system to fight advanced ovarian cancer may be a promising avenue to improve outcomes in what has continued to be the most aggressive gynecologic cancer,” said Krishnansu S. Tewari, MD, Gynecologic Oncologist, Professor, and Director of Research at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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