The addition of the antiangiogenic agent cediranib to the PARP inhibitor olaparib in women with recurrent platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer improves time to cancer progression and survival. The results of this study were recently reported in The Lancet Oncology.

Each year in the United States, roughly 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and more than 15,000 die of the disease. Treatment for ovarian cancer commonly involves surgery and/or chemotherapy. Women who experience cancer progression after six months of treatment with a standard platinum-based chemotherapy regimen are considered to have platinum-sensitive cancer. Researchers continue to study new approaches for improving the outcomes of all women affected by ovarian cancer.

Currently there are several new drugs being developed for the treatment of ovarian cancer. Cediranib is s novel drug that binds to and inhibits all three vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR-1,-2,-3) tyrosine kinases, thereby blocking VEGF-signaling. angiogenesis, and tumor cell growth. VEGF plays a key role in the development of new blood vessels. By blocking VEGF, cediranib deprives the cancer of nutrients and oxygen and inhibits its growth.

The clinical trail evaluated 90 women with platinum-sensitive, recurrent ovarian cancer from nine U.S. centers. Women were assigned treatment with cediranib with or without olaparib and directly compared.

At the time of reporting with patients having been followed for almost 17 months the combination therapy appears to have significantly improved survival. Overall patients treated with the combination have survived without cancer progression 17.7 months compared to only 9 months for those treated with olaparib alone.

Side effects of treatment were more common with combination therapy. The addition of cediranib was associated with more hypertension, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and headache compared to treatment with olaparib alone. Cediranib is being developed by AstraZeneca as a possible anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agent for oral administration and is only available in clinical trials at this time.

Reference: Liu J, Barry W, Birrer M, et al. Combination cediranib and olaparib versus olaparib alone for women with recurrent platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer: a randomised phase 2 study. The Lancet Oncology, Volume 15, Issue 11, Pages 1207 – 1214, October 2014.

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