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SCCA Patients Benefit From Research

SCCA Patients Benefit From "Being in the Pipeline" for New Research

Women who seek treatment at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for a gynecologic cancer benefit from the research done by their doctors. Through SCCA, they gain access to clinical trials, some conducted by the same doctors who are treating them, and they are often among the first to receive new, proven therapies for their disease.

"We're in the pipeline," says Dr. Benjamin E. Greer, a nationally renowned surgeon and specialist in the gynecologic oncology field who is a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at UW Medicine and head of the Gynecologic Cancer Program at SCCA.

"We know what's coming," Dr. Greer says. "It's like insider trading on the stock exchange--which is illegal--but in terms of the best medical care, this is the place to be. We're ahead of the standard of care." 

Through our parent organizations, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW Medicine, the doctors who treat patients at SCCA conduct research and take leadership roles in national research organizations such as the Gynecologic Oncology Group.

Study compares chemotherapy regimens for ovarian cancer

Dr. Greer is one of the authors of a recent study that compared two different chemotherapy combinations in women with advanced ovarian cancer.

The study found that the combination of Taxol and carboplatin was as effective in treating ovarian cancer as the standard combination of Taxol and cisplatin, while being less toxic and having fewer side effects.

"The GOG research proved what we already knew," says Dr. Ron Swensen, a UW Medicine gynecologic oncologist, "that giving a less toxic regimen was equally effective."

But while doctors who treat women for ovarian cancer assumed from their own experience that the two chemotherapy combinations were equally effective, that had not been proved until this large study was completed.

In addition to fewer and milder side effects--less nausea, less kidney damage, less numbness and tingling in the hands and feet--the study also showed that the chemotherapy could be given in a four-hour infusion every three weeks rather than the standard 24-hour overnight treatment that has been used.

The study was done at a number of research institutions around the country, including UW Medicine, and was sponsored by the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG), a multi-institutional clinical research group funded by the National Cancer Institute. The results were published in the Sept. 1, 2003, issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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