Ovarian Cancer Clinical Trial Results: Data Points to Treatment Options Beyond Standard Chemotherapy

February 1, 2017 5:19 pm

The following article is provided by The Clearity Foundation to support women with ovarian cancer and their families. Learn more about The Clearity Foundation and the services we provide directly to women as they make treatment decisions and navigate emotional impacts of their diagnosis.

By: Cory Bentley, PhD

Many women diagnosed with ovarian cancer could probably write a dissertation for an advanced degree on ovarian cancer. Whether women are newly diagnosed or have recurrent ovarian cancer, the new learning needed to make informed decisions about treatment options is immense. Clearity is helping to ease that burden by assembling the results from key ovarian cancer clinical trials in a new Trial Results Finder on their website.

Combined with the news feed that is available on The Clearity Portal, this new addition creates a one-stop-shop for learning about the latest in ovarian cancer treatment. “We want to make it easy to find these results so that women don’t have to spend hours trying to find the right information to help them make informed choices about treatment options,” explains Clearity scientific director Dr. Deborah Zajchowski. The Trial Results Finder gives women the opportunity to see how new drugs and treatment strategies have performed in ovarian cancer clinical trials, some of the most important information for deciding on a treatment strategy and if a clinical trial should be part of it.

A woman can now rapidly identify clinical trial results most relevant to her disease status using the “clinical situation” search. Alternatively, she can find results from studies of specific drugs that are indicated by her tumor blueprint to be a potential treatment option using a “drug name/drug class” search. Although some of these clinical trial results can be found through skilled internet searches, the Clearity Trial Results Finder is a unique and user-friendly resource. It is focused on ovarian cancer trials, is updated as soon as the trial results are published, and presents the results in both a visual (graphical) and tabular format. Visual presentation of the data helps with interpretation of complex information. With the Trial Results Finder, the colored bar graphics help make sense of the clinical trial results retrieved by the search, especially when results from multiple trials are shown.

Find Trial Results Based on Clinical Situation

For a demonstration of how to use this visual data, try to search for results based on the “clinical situation” for a woman whose cancer came back more than 6 months after her last treatment with a platinum drug like carboplatin. At the Trial Results Finder search page, select “My cancer has recurred and I am platinum-sensitive” and the search retrieves 16 studies. Each study is shown as a set of horizontal colored bars with the length of the bars indicating the effectiveness of the treatment either in terms of tumor shrinkage (objective response rate) or in terms of the time it takes before the tumor returns or starts to grow (progression free survival). The lengths of these horizontal bars tell the story.

What “jumped out” for Dr. Zajchowski when she looked at the visually summarized data in this bar chart was that women taking many of the drugs tested in clinical trials did just as well as those receiving the standard chemotherapy treatments. And some did better! For patientswith platinum-sensitive recurrences, 50 to 70% had their tumors shrink with standard treatments compared with up to 85% in the trials. In one of the trials shown, adding Avastin to standard carboplatin + gemzar chemotherapy, nearly 80% of patients benefited compared to 60% without Avastin (purple bars). While precise comparisons of drug effectiveness can only be made for patients treated in the same trial, this visual representation of the data allows one to readily see which of the drugs in trials are performing very well and which are not. For example, it is striking how well women who took PARP inhibitors did if their tumors have a BRCA mutation (BRCA MUT, BRCA mutational status is part of the Clearity Tumor Blueprint). In fact, the PARP inhibitor Rubraca was approved by the FDA at the end of 2016 based on the clinical trial results shown here (orange bars). Since Rubraca seems to be just as effective as standard chemotherapy and may not have as many side effects, it makes sense for women with BRCA mutations to ask their doctors about taking this drug to treat their recurrence.

Find Trial Results Based on Specific Drugs

(Use your Tumor Profile or Clearity Tumor Blueprint)

Clearity’s Trial Results Finder can be used by anyone searching for information about specific drugs used to treat ovarian cancer. Yet, it is ideally suited for someone who wants to know more about the drug or drugs that match her tumor molecular profile (like a Clearity Tumor
Blueprint). By searching for those drugs here one can find out if there are any clinical results with the drug that show how well it works. It is important to keep in mind that since the trials often enroll all patients, regardless of their tumor profile, results from the actual trial may underestimate how well the drug will work in someone whose tumor profile matches the drug. So, the women who responded in the trial may be the ones with the profile that matched the drug taken!

The Trial Results Finder will continue to be updated as more results become available and treatment options continue to expand. By including many studies and enabling searches based on clinical situation and drugs or drug classes, this resource can help to identify the range of treatment options available that make sense for each woman with ovarian cancer. There is no denying that this is an amazing, and even staggering, amount of complex information, even for those women that are ready for their advanced degree in ovarian cancer. But because all the trial data is here, a person with ovarian cancer (along with her team) can be confidant of finding the latest information that is relevant to her clinical situation and her tumor blueprint.

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