No survival benefit with early treatment of relapse on the basis of a raised CA125 concentration

Wednesday, 19/01/2011  |   Ovarian/ Uterine Cancer  |  no comments

Cancer antigen 125 (CA125)

The findings of the first randomised trial to investigate timing of treatment for relapsed ovarian cancer was published in the October 2, 2010 issue of the Lancet.
The level of the CA125 protein produced by ovarian cancer cells in the blood often increases several months before signs or symptoms of relapse appear in women with ovarian cancer. Current practices concerning whether or not regular CA125 tests are done and when to start second-line chemotherapy vary widely. Additionally, concerns about CA125 testing and the implications of positive results can cause patients considerable anxiety.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) OV05 and European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) 55955 trials were established to compare the benefits of early treatment on the basis of rising CA125 levels versus delaying treatment until clinical or symptomatic relapse.
A total of 1,442 women in complete remission with ovarian cancer were enrolled in the trial. Clinical examinations and a CA125 blood test were done every 3 months. If CA125 level increased to twice the upper limit of normal, patients were randomly assigned to early (treatment starting as soon as possible) or delayed (treatment starting when signs or symptoms of relapse were detected) chemotherapy. A total of 529 women were randomly assigned to treatment—265 to early and 264 to delay.
After a median follow-up of 56.9 months, no difference in overall survival was shown between early and delayed treatment—370 women died, 186 in the early treatment group and 184 in the delayed group.
Median survival after randomization was 25.7 months for patients having early treatment and 27.1 months for those having delayed treatment. Additionally, quality of life deteriorated sooner in patients being treated earlier, with significant disadvantages for role, emotional, social, and fatigue associated with early treatment.
“Women should be informed that there is no evidence of a benefit from early treatment on the basis of rising CA125 concentration, and no deterioration in quality of life by delaying chemotherapy,” the authors said. “If CA125 concentration rises during follow-up, chemotherapy can be safely delayed until symptoms or signs of tumor recurrence develop.”
They conclude, “For the first time women can be given evidence-based advice and can make informed choices about follow-up. … The results of this trial suggest that they can opt to forgo routine CA125 monitoring if their disease is in complete remission after first-line treatment.”
Rustin GJ, van der Burg ME, Griffin CL, Guthrie D, et al. Early versus delayed treatment of relapsed ovarian cancer (MRC OV05/EORTC 55955): a randomised trial. The Lancet, Volume 376, Issue 9747, Pages 1155-63

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