Double dose of chemo effective for some ovarian cancer patients

While battling ovarian cancer, Terry Wiencek's backyard was her sanctuary. Diagnosed at stage three, she took comfort here as she braced for a long battle with cancer. But just a few months after treatment began, her doctor had good news.

"At that point he said, you know, it looks like everything's good, I mean officially in remission, as much as you can say that, and just continue to check up on things," said Wiencek.

What helped make the difference for Terry was a double dose approach to chemotherapy. Not only do patients get a dose through an IV, but a follow up dose directly in the abdomen.

A new study shows this dual approach pushed the three year survival rate to 81 percent in advanced cases, a 10 point jump. The bad news? It also found that at six of the largest academic medical centers, only 41 percent of women got it, leaving doctors puzzled.

"Why are there such wide variations at large academic, national comprehensive cancer network hospitals, in what is probably the best therapy for patients?" asked Dr. David O'Malley at Ohio State's James Cancer Hospital.

O'Malley helped conduct the study at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute alongside five other leading cancer centers.
He said the technique was first studied a decade ago and today, half of all patients who get it are still alive 10 years after diagnosis.

"Not that long ago less than one half of women who were diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer were alive only 2-3 years. That's why it's so important," said O'Malley.

O'Malley said one of the reasons the approach may be underutilized is because some patients may assume more chemo means more side effects, which isn't necessarily true.

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