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Pieces of Eight


Research Advances Cancer Treatment

By Jeannine Manning Hutson

A new study has shown for the first time that giving two chemotherapy drugs to women with advanced endometrial cancer after surgery reduced the risk of recurrence by 29 percent and extended survival by 32 percent compared with women who received whole abdominal irradiation. The findings could improve the care for the 15 to 20 percent of patients with endometrial cancer who have advanced disease. The study was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Marcus E. Randall

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year 40,880 women will be diagnosed with the disease and 7,310 will die.

,For the first time, adjuvant chemotherapy has been shown to extend survival in patients with advanced endometrial cancer,Š said the study‰s lead author, Dr. Marcus E. Randall, professor of radiation oncology at the Brody School of Medicine and director of the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center. ,These findings were surprising, given that previous studies showed that single chemotherapy agents do not have a significant impact on the disease.Š

Researchers from the Gynecologic Oncology Group compared the rate of recurrence and overall survival between 194 women with advanced endometrial cancer who received chemotherapy with the drugs doxorubicin and cisplatin over a period of five months and 202 women who received radiation therapy to the entire abdomen over a period of approximately six weeks. Patients were enrolled in the trial from 1992 until 2001. Researchers followed patients for a median of just over six years, and used a statistical model to estimate five-year recurrence and survival rates.

After five years, 50 percent of patients who received chemotherapy were estimated to be free of disease compared with 38 percent of those who received whole abdominal irradiation. Moreover, 55 percent of patients who received chemotherapy were estimated to be alive after five years, compared with 42 percent of patients in the radiation therapy group.

However, serious adverse side effects were more common in the chemotherapy group. Another study is underway to see if the chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel will be as effective, but with fewer serious side effects.

A consumer information piece on this study can be found at For additional information on the diagnosis and treatment of endometrial cancer including staging illustrations, visit

This page originally appeared in the Feb. 3, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at