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Ovarian cancer life expectancy increased by abdomen injections

Chemotherapy injected directly into the abdomen could lead to three years being added to the average life expectancy of some ovarian cancer patients, according to new research.

Published in the British Journal of Cancer, the research found that the extended survival was only found among patients whose tumours had low levels of the protein made by the BRCA1 gene.

The overall survival of 400 women who received chemotherapy drugs in different ways was studied in the research carried out by the Gynecologic Oncology Group and the University of Pittsburgh. Half the woman had drugs administered directly into the abdomen, while the other half received the traditional treatment via intravenous injection. The BRCA1 protein levels were then measured in these women’s tumours.

Results showed that a 36 month survival improvement on average was seen in women with low BRCA1 levels in their cancer cells who had intraperitoneal injection, over those who had an intravenous injection. No significant difference in survival between the two treatment methods was seen in those patients who had normal BRCA1 levels.

Lead author of the study was Dr Thomas Krivak, gynaecological oncologist at Magee Women’s Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh, who claimed the research should allow experts to identify a particular group of ovarian cancer patients and enable nurses to administer a very simple change to their treatment in order to improve their survival outlook.

Dr Krivak added: “When chemotherapy is given directly into the abdomen it reaches the cancerous cells in a higher concentration than when it’s administered into a vein. This means that it can work more effectively. This type of administration of chemotherapy seems to have the greatest improvement in outcomes for women who have low levels of the BRCA1 protein.”

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