Targeted drug raises hope for cervical cancer patients
There's good news for patients suffering from cervical cancer, the second most common cancer in women.
In a clinical study, scientists have discovered that a drug erlotinib, a targeted anti-tumour agent, has potential to improve treatment for cervical cancer when combined with chemoradiation therapy.
The new treatment strategy involves targeting the epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is frequently over-expressed in cervical cancer.
Epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulates the proliferation of a wide range of epidermal and epithelial cells. EGFR is a cell surface protein that binds to epidermal growth factor.
"While cervical cancer is a neglected disease and very few clinical trials have been reported in the last 10 years, some groups, including ours, have reported that its biology might be prone to targeted therapy," said Nogueira-Rodrigues of the Brazilian National Cancer Institute.
Nogueira-Rodrigues and her colleagues designed a phase 2 clinical trial to test the potential of the EFGR inhibitor erlotinib combined with chemoradiation therapy in 36 women with cervical cancer.
Median duration of therapy was 77 days and median follow-up time was 59.3 months.
The therapy was well tolerated overall, and 34 patients (94.4 percent) achieved a complete response, which means the disappearance of all cancerous lesions.
After three years, 80 percent of women were alive, and 73.8 percent experienced no disease progression.
"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to present that a targeted agent has promising activity in the management of locally advanced cervical disease," she said.
She added that targeted therapies may be added to the standard treatment for locally advanced cervical cancer if randomised trials confirm the current study results.
The study appeared in the journal CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
(Posted on 10-03-2014)