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'Chemo Bath' May Help Ovarian Cancer Patients

Long-term study found women who received 'intraperitoneal' treatment lived about a year longer

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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 Gynecologic Oncology and an associate professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said the new findings are exciting.

"This is long-term follow-up data that confirms what we expected," Brown said. "We have been waiting for years to determine if the results are short-lived or if we see it years later, and now we know that we see the survival benefit 10 years out."

"Doctors are used to giving IV chemotherapy, so this is a new skill set in terms of giving the drugs," she said. "It comes with different equipment and patient instructions and side effects. As individual physicians and centers become more comfortable and confident with learning how to manage the side effects, its use will increase."

Dr. Elizabeth Poynor, a gynecologic oncologist at New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital, agreed. "The toxicity and intensity is greater than with IV therapy, so some people can't tolerate it," she said. "But for those who do, survival is clearly benefited."

"It's a tradeoff," Poynor said. "There are more side effects, but there are also survival benefits. You don't know how you will tolerate it until you try -- and if it's not for you, you can back off."

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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