Adding the monoclonal antibody drug trastuzumab–already used to treat certain breast cancers–to the chemotherapy regimen of women with a rare form of uterine cancer lengthens the amount of time their tumors are kept from growing, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers conducting a small phase II trial of the regimen, testing its safety and value.
The results of the trial, published online ahead of print on March 27 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, show that the drug extended the length of time to tumor progression by four to eight months in the seven-year trial. The researchers say this may lead to new national guidelines for treating this cancer subtype, known as uterine serous carcinoma.
Uterine serous carcinoma makes up less than 10 percent of all cancers of the endometrium, or lining of the womb, diagnosed in the United States each year, but it accounts for more than a third of the 10,000 endometrial cancer deaths annually. The aggressive carcinomas often don’t cause symptoms until they’ve begun to spread throughout the body. As a result, the average time that standard chemotherapy and surgical treatments can keep the tumor from growing or spreading–known as progression-free survival–is only about eight months.
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