Research on cervical cancer has revealed that women with advanced cervical cancer live about 4 months longer with the combined use of bevacizumab (Avastin) and chemotherapy compared with chemotherapy alone. Women who received bevacizumab with chemotherapy lived an average of 17 months after diagnosis, whereas those who received chemotherapy alone lived 13.3 months.
The multisite research project was conducted by Bradley J. Monk, MD, a physician at the University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The results have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2014; doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1309748). The findings are expected to change the standard of care for women with advanced cervical cancer.
“This research proves that there are new options for patients with metastatic cervical cancer,” said Monk, the project’s senior author. “I predict that adding bevacizumab to chemotherapy will become the new standard of care.” Monk is nationally recognized for his expertise in cervical cancer and chairs the Gynecologic Oncology Cervical Cancer Committee for the National Cancer Institute-funded Gynecologic Oncology Group.
The research was conducted between April 2009 and January 2012. A total of 452 women participated in the trial and were enrolled from 164 institutions in the United States and Spain. St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center was the only site enrolling in Arizona.
During the clinical trial, patients were randomly assigned to groups who received either chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy and bevacizumab. Adding bevacizumab to combination chemotherapy was associated with a 3.7-month longer overall survival for patients with recurrent, persistent, or metastatic cervical cancer.
Approximately 12,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the United States annually, and with continued increases in vaccinations, the number of cases is expected to decrease further. However, for vulnerable populations without access to health care, cervical cancer remains a serious problem, with 500,000 new cases and 250,000 deaths annually.
“There has been a large unmet medical need for active treatments for cervical cancer,” said Monk. “We believe the results of this study are a significant step forward and now we will move to trying to add bevacizumab to a front-line treatment when cancers are more curable, rather than using it at the time of recurrence.”