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Abdominal 'Chemo Bath' May Extend Survival in Ovarian Cancer Patients
Date:3/10/2013

raperitoneal chemotherapy does confer a greater risk of side effects -- such as abdominal pain and numbness in the hands and feet -- and not all women can tolerate this high concentration of cancer-killing drugs. The drugs are also absorbed more slowly, providing more exposure to the medicine. The same properties that make the intraperitoneal therapy more effective likely play a role in causing more side effects, the researchers said.

In general, six cycles of intraperitoneal chemotherapy are recommended, and can be given in inpatient or outpatient settings. The more cycles the women completed, the greater their survival advantage, the study showed. After five years, close to 60 percent of women who completed five or six cycles of intraperitoneal therapy were still alive, compared with 33 percent of those who completed three or four cycles and 18 percent of those who completed one or two cycles. Women can switch back to IV chemotherapy if the side effects prove too harsh. Still, the researchers said, some intraperitoneal chemotherapy is better than none.

Younger and healthier women were among the most likely to complete the regimen.

"If after surgery all of the visible cancer has been removed and there is no cancer that is greater than 1 centimeter left in any one area, a woman is an immediate candidate [for intraperitoneal chemotherapy]," Tewari said. "If someone is older and in good shape and handled the operation well, they are also candidates."

Growing numbers of doctors and women with ovarian cancer are opting for intraperitoneal therapy, she said. And it may offer even greater benefits when paired with some of the newer therapies for ovarian cancer that are moving through the drug development pipeline.

"Its use can and should increase," said Tewari, who also is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine.

Dr. Jubilee Brown, a spokeswoman for the Society of
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