Overlooked Treatment May Improve Survival Rates for Ovarian Cancer Patients

A treatment that may improve the 10-year survival rate for ovarian cancer patients should be a consideration, according to a recent study published by a Duquesne University researcher.

Intraperitoneal/intravenous chemotherapy (IP/IV) has been associated with improved survival rates in several published randomized trials. Its use in the U.S. and Europe, however, has been limited by various complications, including harsh side effects reported by some patients, catheter complications and lower rates of completion. Additionally, IP/IV chemotherapy is not always available and accessible outside of larger tertiary healthcare facilities. 

The recent Duquesne/University of Pittsburgh study, published in Cancer Medicine, reported that those who underwent the IP/IV treatment experienced improved 10-year survival rates in comparison to IP/IV treatment-eligible patients who did not undergo the treatment. Typically, less then 50 percent of patients survive five years after being diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. This study is unique in evaluating long-term ovarian cancer survivors. 

"The study shows that IP/IV chemotherapy should be considered for ovarian cancer patients who are good candidates for the procedure," said Dr. Faina Linkov, chair of Duquesne's Health Administration and Public Health program in the Rangos School of Health Sciences. "While the study found that only 14 percent of patients were treated with IP/IV, they did experience improved 10-year survival." 

Using hospital registry data from the UPMC Health system, Linkov analyzed the data of more than 1,800 ovarian cancer patients and worked with gynecologic oncologists to interpret the results. The IP/IV treatment was significantly associated with improved 10-year survival rates, with no impact on cancer recurrence. 

"The study suggests that we need to explore new ways of identifying patients who may benefit from this treatment," said Linkov, who has published more than 100 research papers and chapters on cancer prevention, molecular epidemiology, health services research and global health. She was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science last week. 

The use of registry and secondary data analysis in research efforts helps expand student horizons at Duquesne, which is the  only university in the Pittsburgh area to offer an undergraduate public health degree

"The use of secondary data to guide patient care is one of the strengths of the Rangos School," Linkov said. "We work together with students to analyze data and understand how our discoveries can be successfully adopted in a health care setting for various conditions, including chronic disease and infectious conditions like COVID-19." 

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

It's time for bigger goals
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