Healthbeat

Researchers optimistic about new therapy for cervical cancer

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Four-thousand women in the U.S. will die from cervical cancer in 2013 alone, statistics say. Another 12,000 will be diagnosed with cervical cancer.

While there's no cure, researchers say they are optimistic about a new therapy that could improve and even extend the lives of patients with recurring or advanced disease.

For Lisa McDevitt, there's nothing better than hitting the road in her limited edition "Warriors in Pink" Mustang. She says the car, in its symbolic pink tone, is her reward for successfully battling and beating cervical cancer twice.

"I actually had a woman follow me home and she wanted to know how much and I was like it's not for sale," McDevitt said.

At the time, her doctor said she wouldn't survive the second round.

"She said you will be dead within six years. I really was just ready to die," McDevitt said.

That's when Dr. Larry Kilgore asked her to join a clinical trial for patients with advanced or recurrent cervical cancer. Researchers are testing a new therapy that combines the biologic drug Avastin with chemo.

"So, the chemotherapy kills the cancer cells and the biologic agent stops blood vessel growth so tumors can't grow. It's a real, real advance," said Dr. Kilgore said.

Results from the phase 3 trial showed patients who received Avastin and chemo lived an average of 17 months, compared to about 13 months for those treated with chemo alone. As for McDevitt, it's been two years since her last chemo.

"Yes, she is disease free. We will have to follow her to see, but so far so good," Dr. Kilgore said.

While Avastin is FDA approved for the treatment of some cancers, including colorectal and lung cancer, it's not currently approved for cervical cancer. You can still get the treatment, but your insurance company may not cover it and this treatment can cost thousands of dollars per month.


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