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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Cervical cancer: survival extended with a new drug

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L’adding immunotherapy to standard chemotherapy extends survival by one year D
women with one cervical cancer persistent, recurrent or metastatic and prolongs the time they are free from disease progression. This is evidenced by the final data from the KEYNOTE-826 trial that will be presented at the next annual meeting of theAmerican Society of Clinical Oncology (Asco), scheduled for June 2 in Chicago.

I study

“The new results illustrate follow-up for three years after treatment more than 600 patients participated in the trial and show it clearly benefits obtained by also administering the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab over to traditional chemotherapywith or without bevacizumab – comments Nicoletta Colombo, Director of the Oncological Gynecology Program at the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) in Milan and lead author of the study -. These are important improvements that support this strategy as a new first-line therapy in a group of patients with “difficult” to treat cervical cancer: it is the first time we have succeeded in extending their life expectancy.”

Immunotherapy for the first time

For the phase three study (the last before the official approval of a new drug) KEYNOTE-826 women with cervical cancer that has come back despite treatment, resists treatment or has already reached the metastatic stage and has spread to other organs. Participants received pembrolizumab immunotherapy or a placebo as first-line treatment, along with traditional chemotherapy and, in some cases, the addition of bevacizumab. “Patients with this type of neoplasm have generally a survival of about one year, but with the new strategy the available time is doubled – explains Colombo, associate professor at Milan-Bicocca University -. Previous research had shown that combining the anti-angiogenic drug (which stops or slows the growth of blood vessels used by cancer to grow) bevacizumab with standard chemotherapy (paclitaxel-based with cisplatin or carboplatin) increased patient survival by nearly four could extend for months. KEYNOTE-826 is the first trial to investigate the utility of associating the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab».

The results of the study

The results obtained after approximately 39 months will be presented to the US Congress. “Progress is remarkable – he notes Domenica Lorusso, associate professor of oncological gynecology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome -: The average survival of patients treated with pembrolizumab is 26.4 months, while that of the non-treated group is 16.8 months. Immunotherapy also reduces the risk of death by 37% and saves several months of disease progression. This new combination has already been approved by the US regulatory agency (the Food and Drug Administration, FDA) and of the European (European Medicines Agency, Ema) e not yet by the Italian Medicines Agency (Aifa), but in our country patients obtain it through compassionate use programs or through free distribution by the pharmaceutical company that produces it.

A tumor that could disappear

In our country, cancer of the cervix (or cervix) still represents the fifth most common cancer
in young women, younger than 50 years, with approximately 2,400 new diagnoses registered each year. But it is a cancer that could disappear thanks to the papillomavirus or HPV vaccine, which is responsible for about 99.7% of cases. “Over therehpv infection, is sexually transmitted is the necessary condition for the onset of a carcinogenic process in the cervix, but there is a vaccine that is offered free of charge in Italy to 12-year-old men and women (up to 26 years in some regions) and it can also useful for adults – Lorusso recalls -. Also the precancerous lesions take many years to become cancerous and thanks to early diagnosis with Pap test and HPV DNA test, they can be identified and removed in time, with different strategies available today. St
and detected in the early stages, this type of cancer can be successfully treated, allowing the full recovery of the patients. In addition to the vaccine and ai screening controlssaving lives is needed watch out for symptoms such as abnormal spotting or bleeding unrelated to your period, pain in your pelvis or back, sudden weight loss. In these cases, it is always better to talk to a gynecologist without too much delay ».

Source: Corriere

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