(HealthDay News) — An experimental vaccine and a drug already on the market each may help slow down advanced ovarian cancer, two new studies suggest. The findings were to be presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), held from March 28–31 in Chicago.
A new vaccine study was a preliminary look at the safety and efficacy of the therapy, known as FANG. In the study, 11 women were randomly assigned to standard treatment alone – namely, surgery and chemotherapy. The other 20 women went through standard therapy, then had monthly injections of the vaccine, for four months to a year. Women on standard treatment typically saw a recurrence after about 14 months. In contrast, most of the vaccine patients have gone “well beyond” that time without a recurrence, according to an SGO press release on the findings. The trial is reportedly moving on to the next phase, with close to 400 women.
The other study involved 748 women with recurrent ovarian cancer, where the prognosis has traditionally been poor. Researchers tested the effects of adding bevacizumab (Avastin) to surgery and standard chemotherapy. Half of the study patients were assigned to surgery plus chemotherapy; the other half had the same treatment, plus bevacizumab. Overall, women who received bevacizumab lived longer – typically 42 months, vs. 37 months. They also went longer with no cancer progression (about 14 months, vs. 10 months).
However, that difference in survival did not quite reach “statistical significance,” Leslie Randall, M.D., an SGO spokesperson who was not involved in the study, told HealthDay. That means it could be a chance finding. “I think there will be a lot of debate over how significant that overall-survival finding is,” said Randall. “It’s positive, but not overwhelmingly so.” Still, she stressed the “good news”: The trial confirms that bevacizumab can prolong the time a woman remains progression-free.