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gsmith@houstonmethodist.org
 

Pelvic cancer study focuses on more effective treatment options

Houston, TX - 9/4/2013

A trip to a Houston Methodist emergency room for a swollen leg uncovered a major surprise for Pauline Stevens - a 25-centimeter pelvic tumor about the size of a soccer ball.

The mass was determined to be cancerous, and it had spread from Stevens’ uterus to her ovaries. Following surgery to remove the tumor, Stevens, 74, volunteered for an endometrial cancer study sponsored by the Gynecologic Oncology Group. Houston Methodist offers this clinical study to patients at two of its locations. Study results will help determine the most effective treatment options with the least side effects for this group of patients.

The randomized phase III trial compares two treatment regimens in patients with advanced stage endometrial cancer. The investigational treatment combines chemotherapy (cisplatin) with radiation therapy, followed by additional chemotherapy (carboplatin and paclitaxel) for four cycles. The standard treatment is carboplatin and paclitaxel for six cycles without radiation therapy.

“We still have no standard treatment for patients with high-grade endometrial cancers, like Mrs. Stevens’ case, so this study will help us determine the best course of adjuvant therapy following surgery,” said Aparna Kamat, M.D., site principal investigator and director of gynecologic oncology at Houston Methodist Hospital. “We use a combination of chemotherapy drugs because each works in different ways to stop the growth of tumor cells, either by killing the cells or by preventing them from dividing. This study will help us determine if radiation therapy offers more benefit for these patients in addition to chemotherapy.”

Stevens is part of the investigational arm of the study. She had her radiation therapy treatment at Houston Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, and her chemotherapy treatments are under way at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. After chemotherapy ends in October, Kamat will follow Stevens’ progress for at least another five years.

Endometrial cancer starts in the inner lining of the uterus and is the most common gynecologic malignancy in the United States. Approximately 42,000 new cases are diagnosed every year in the United States. Although the exact cause of endometrial cancer is unknown, increased levels of estrogen appear to play a role, and obesity is the single highest risk factor. Most women with endometrial cancer whose cancer has spread outside the uterus generally receive chemotherapy alone or in combination with radiation. Currently, clinicians and researchers are trying to determine the most effective treatment plan for these patients, both in terms of outcomes as well as the side effects associated with therapy.

Houston Methodist will enroll five patients. A total of 840 patients will be involved at more than 350 locations in the United States, Canada and South Korea. The Gynecologic Oncology Group is an organization dedicated to clinical research in the field of gynecologic cancer. It is funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

To speak with Aparna Kamat, M.D., contact Gale Smith at GSmith@HoustonMethodist.org or 832.667.5843. For more information on Houston Methodist, call 713.790.3333 or visit www.HoustonMethodist.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.