New Research Helps Find Most Effective Chemotheraphy for Ovarian Cancer

Jul 22, 2013

Research by a Pittsburgh physician could help women diagnosed with ovarian cancer determine the most effective chemotherapy treatments with their doctors.

The study, led by Dr. Thomas Krivak, assistant director of Gynecological Oncology at West Penn Allegheny Health Systems, supports the ChemoFx chemoresponse assay, a tool used to accurately predict how individual women will respond to platinum-based chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.

Platinum-based chemotherapy is the standard in treating primary ovarian cancer. While, the first line of treatment is typically effective, 80 percent of women with ovarian epithelial cancer relapse, according to the National Cancer Institute.

ChemoFx, designed by Precision Therapeutics of Pittsburgh, treats and analyzes tumor tissue. The number of surviving cancer cells are counted by automated software. The results are then compared to a control and are classified as responsive, intermediately responsive or non-responsive.

Krivak says ChemoFx will help doctors cut down on unnecessary chemotherapy treatments.

“These are some very positive studies that I think are going to help select women to better treatments,” Krivak said, “and hopefully, improve their outcome by improving not just their overall longevity of life, but hopefully decrease the likelihood of exposure to chemotherapies that are ineffective, but still have side effects.”

Krivak’s research sampled 276 patients diagnosed with primary, stage three or stage four ovarian, peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer. The women were treated with platinum-based chemotherapy following tumor-reduction surgery.

The study concluded that ChemoFx is effective in determining platinum resistant ovarian cancer patients.

“It’s another tool that we use,” Krivak said. “You look at how healthy a patient is…You look at the prior chemotherapy and how they tolerated that to help select that patient the best chemotherapy.”

The ability to determine which cancer treatments are ineffective for some women could prevent patients from undergoing numerous cycles of unproductive chemotherapies, allowing doctors to employ alternative, more effective measures earlier in the disease.

The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be 22,240 new cases of ovarian cancer in the United States in 2013 and 14,030 fatalities.