Health Watch - Keeping Away Ovarian Cancer

The good news is many of these patients respond to treatments and go into remission quickly. The bad news is the cancer often comes back with deadly consequences. But now, a new treatment aims to keep the cancer away for good.

Julie Lee's three new puppies are sure to bring a smile to her face.

"They're such a joy. They're so fun!" Lee exclaims.

She's needed the good times after being diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.

"My first thought was, 'Oh my God, I have ovarian cancer. That's like one of the worst cancers you can possibly have,'" Lee says.

After chemotherapy and radiation, Lee went into remission. Good news, but Robert Holloway, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist at the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute in Orlando, Fla., says 75 percent of patients in remission have their cancer return.

"Some of the most intense areas of research right now are to try and figure out how to take women who are in remission and keep them there," Dr. Holloway says.

Now, researchers are studying a new therapy that may do just that. Catumaxomab -- or CAT for short -- is infused right into the abdomen through a port. It links immune cells to cancer cells. The body then creates an immune response to seek out and destroy the cancer cells.

"I can say in the patients that I treated, we have seen the immune response," Dr. Holloway says.

Patients are given four injections over a month. Doctors have treated about 36 patients in a clinical trial. It's still early, but so far, all the women have remained in remission.

Lee had the injections and has been in remission for nine months. "I hope that this clinical trial prevents me from ever having a relapse again, and I'll stay in remission forever," Lee says.

She says she wants to enjoy each and every moment with her little pups.

Side effects of the therapy include a flu-like condition since the drug affects the body's immune system. Currently, there are 36 patients enrolled in this clinical trial nationally, but researchers are now enrolling more.


Jacqueline Lorenzetti
Florida Hospital Medical Center

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