Blood Flow Measurement Predicts Effectiveness of Ovarian Cancer Treatment

A tool for measuring blood flow and volume to ovarian cancer tumors accurately predicts the effectiveness of treatment, according to a recent study published in Clinical Cancer Research (June 2017; doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-16-1859).


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Approximately 60% to 85% of patients with ovarian cancer will experience relapse after their initial treatment. Ability to assess therapy effectiveness early in the treatment process could help clinicians select more appropriate therapies and lower relapse rates in this population.

Ting-Yim Lee, PhD, Western University Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Lawson Health Research Institute, St Joseph’s Health Care (London), and colleagues conducted a study to determine whether computed tomography (CT) perfusion biomarkers—which measure blood flow and blood volume of tumors associated with ovarian cancer—are associated with progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with advanced ovarian cancer. A total of 67 patients were treated with carboplatin and either dose-dense (weekly) or conventional (3-weekly) paclitaxel, with optional bevacizumab. Patients were selected if they demonstrated residual disease after primary cytoreductive surgery or planned interval cytoreduction following neoadjuvant therapy.

PFS and overall survival (OS) were assessed after 6 weeks. CT perfusion tests were performed at baseline, after three weeks, and after four weeks from chemotherapy initiation.

Results of the study showed that blood volume and blood flow increases were associated with significantly lower PFS, even after adjusting for age, change in tumor volume, and surgery status (P = 0.007). Neither blood volume nor blood flow changes were significantly associated with treatment response rate or OS.

Researchers concluded that early CT perfusion biomarker measurements may provide early prognostic information for PFS in newly diagnosed, advanced ovarian cancer. “"Using this method we are able to see a change in the blood flow as early as four weeks after treatment. This means we don't have to wait months to determine whether symptoms will recur, we are able to tell whether the treatment is effective much sooner," said Dr Lee in a press release (June 28, 2017).

Authors of the study acknowledged that although the trial offers promise, further studies are required to validate the current findings.—Zachary Bessette