Patients with advanced ovarian cancer may have less toxic side effects Chemotherapy With Taxotere and Carboplatin May Provide Benefits Over Standard Treatment for Advanced Ovarian Cancer Patients | Ovarian Cancer News | Imaginis - The Women's Health & Wellness Resource Network

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Chemotherapy With Taxotere and Carboplatin May Provide Benefits Over Standard Treatment for Advanced Ovarian Cancer Patients

Patients with advanced ovarian cancer may have less toxic side effects if they are treated with a chemotherapy regimen that consists of Taxotere (generic name, docetaxel) and carboplatin (brand name, Paraplatin) versus the standard regimen of Taxol (generic name, paclitaxel) and carboplatin. A new study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) found that while survival rates for patients who were treated with either regimen were similar, the Taxotere/carboplatin regimen causes less damage to nerve tissue than the standard chemotherapy regimen for advanced ovarian cancer.

The Scottish Randomized Trial in Ovarian Cancer (SCOTROC) included 1,077 ovarian cancer patients from 83 medical centers in 10 countries. Following surgery to remove their ovarian tumors, the patients were randomly assigned to be treated with either the standard Taxol/carboplatin chemotherapy regimen or the new regimen of Taxotere/carboplatin. After one year, Dr. Paul A. Vasey and his research team found that survival rates were similar among both groups of women. However, the researchers noted that women treated with Taxotere in combination with carboplatin had significantly less neurotoxicity (nerve damage) than the women treated with Taxol and carboplatin: 40% in the group treated with Taxotere experienced nerve damage versus 80% in the group treated with Taxol after six treatment cycles.

"While significant progress has been made over the last two decades in the management of gynecologic cancers, the overall five-year survival rate for these [advanced ovarian cancer] patients is still less than 30%," said Dr. Vasey in an Scottish Gynaceological Cancer Trials Group news release. "Our finding that the [Taxotere/carboplatin] combination appears to be as effective but better tolerated with respect to neurotoxicity than the current standard may represent an important advance for this patient population."

While the results of the study are promising, Dr. Vasey and his colleagues warned that the data are preliminary. Ongoing studies are evaluating quality of life and duration of nerve damage in these patients. However, the current results suggest that the Taxotere/carboplatin chemotherapy regimen may provide benefits for patients over the standard treatment.

Chemotherapy is one type of treatment for ovarian cancer. While chemotherapy regimens are individualized depending on the patient’s tumor type, size, and other circumstances, most physicians use a combination of different chemotherapy drugs when treating ovarian cancer. Combination therapy using a platinum compound (such as cisplatin or carboplatin) and a taxane (such as Taxol) is the standard chemotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer. Other treatments for ovarian cancer include surgery and radiation therapy.

In some cases, ovarian cancer cells become resistant to certain chemotherapy drugs or begin to grow after chemotherapy has ended. In these instances, additional chemotherapy regimens with a platinum agent and taxane are usually tried. If these therapies do not work, other drugs may be used to treat advanced ovarian cancer. These drugs include Hycamtin (generic name, topotecan), Adriamycin (generic name, doxorubicin), and others.

Ovarian cancer accounts for 4% of all cancers in women. It is estimated that 23,400 new cases of ovarian cancers will be diagnosed in the United States in 2001. When detected early before the cancer has spread outside of the ovary, the five-year survival rate is approximately 95%. However, because the symptoms of ovarian cancer tend to be subtle, the disease is often not detected until advanced stages, when survival rates are much lower. New research, such as this study of Taxotere/carboplatin, is helping to treat patients with ovarian cancer with fewer side effects.

Additional Resources and References

  • The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual conference was held from May 12 to May 15, 2001 in San Francisco, California. Abstracts of the studies presented at the ASCO conference, including the study referenced in this article, are available on the ASCO website at
  • To learn more about ovarian cancer, please visit