A phase 2 clinical trial of a targeted therapy provides evidence that there might, at last, be a treatment that shrinks or stifles the growth of recurrent low-grade serous ovarian cancer.
Women who have low-grade disease tend to be younger and survive longer than those with high-grade ovarian cancer, but when their cancer persists or comes back, it almost always thwarts treatment. Between 2% and 4% of patients respond to chemotherapy. Hormonal therapies do modestly better, with a 9% response rate.
In the clinical trial of the drug selumetinib published in the February edition of The Lancet Oncology, eight of 52 (15 percent) patients had a complete or objective partial response (tumor shrinkage) and 34 (65 percent) had no disease progression during the two-year course of the study.
"These are remarkably encouraging results for what can ultimately be a devastating disease," says David Gershenson, M.D., professor in MD Anderson's Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive medicine, the paper's senior author.
Selumetinib hasn't made Doris Elliott's recurrent low-grade ovarian cancer disappear. But it shrank all of her tumors and has arrested their development for five years running.
For Dotsy Elliott, cancer under control for five years and counting
After her diagnosis in 1997, six rounds of chemotherapy kept cancer at bay until 2005. Surgery and nine rounds of chemotherapy did little to slow progression. Another clinical trial helped for about 18 months.