AT ACOG 2016

WASHINGTON (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Intraperitoneal chemotherapy may be unpleasant and interfere with daily life, but the large majority of women who received it for ovarian cancer agreed that it was the right choice for them.

A small survey of women who completed up to six cycles of the treatment found that most women did experience side effects, including fatigue, pain, and gastrointestinal issues. Despite those problems, more than 80% said they felt the regimen was “worth it,” and more than 90% said they would recommend it to another woman.

“Outpatient administration of chemotherapy appears to be feasible with acceptable toxicities and high completion rates,” Dr. Kristin Gotimer said at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Toxicities were troublesome, and they did definitely affect quality of life; but almost none of our patients regretted being treated – even the ones who experienced recurrent disease.”

Dr. Gotimer of the Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, N.Y., discussed a retrospective study of 98 women who underwent intraperitoneal chemotherapy for a gynecologic cancer from 2006 to 2014. Mean age of the patients was 58 years. Most women (71%) had ovarian cancer, and most cancer (70%) was stage IIIC or higher. All patients underwent cytoreductive surgery before starting chemotherapy.

Almost all women were prescribed six cycles of the regimen, which consisted of IV paclitaxel on day 1, intraperitoneal cisplatin on day 2, and intraperitoneal paclitaxel on day 8. Overall, 73% of patients completed their prescribed treatment. Among those prescribed six cycles, 71% completed all of them. Of the 26 patients who discontinued, 12 did so because of port complications, and 14 did so because of toxicities.

The most commonly reported side effects were gastrointestinal effects, fatigue, and neuropathy. Grade 3/4 toxicities were most often fatigue, neuropathy, and pain; those occurred in about 6% of patients per cycle. There were four cases of neutropenic fever; two of those resulted in treatment delays.

Seven patients had to change treatment, Dr. Gotimer said. Six switched from intraperitoneal cisplatin to intraperitoneal carboplatin, and one patient switched from IV paclitaxel to IV Abraxane. Toxicities were more likely to appear in later cycles. “The probability of starting each cycle was lower if the patient had experienced a severe toxicity in the prior cycle,” Dr. Gotimer explained.

A subset of patients (48) completed a survey about the treatment at a mean of 31 months after treatment. Of those, 92% had completed all their prescribed cycles. Disease had recurred in 21%. The three-domain survey queried the mental, physical, and social impact of the treatment.

On the physical health domain, half the group reported fatigue associated with the treatment. Others complained of pain (40%), gastrointestinal effects (37%), “chemo brain” cognitive dysfunction (29%), and alopecia (25%). A few patients experienced infections and dermatologic problems (less than 10% each).

In the mental health domain, patients most often noted stress (25%), anxiety (21%), and depression (15%) during treatment. They also said the therapy interfered with their social health, affecting work attendance (27%), housework (29%), and social interactions (19%). It also imposed a substantial time commitment, 17% of patients noted.

Despite those issues, 83% of patients endorsed intraperitoneal chemotherapy as “worth it,” and almost 90% said they would recommend it to a friend or family member considering it. Only about 5% of patients said they regretted using the treatment, although Dr. Gotimer didn’t specify what those regrets were.

Despite its small size and retrospective nature, the survey offers some clinically useful information, Dr. Gotimer noted. “We can identify modifiable side effects and develop specific interventions aimed at increasing tolerability.”

The results could also be used to “improve physician and patient understanding of realistic short- and long-term expectations to improve patient counseling,” she added.

Dr. Gotimer had no financial declarations. On Twitter @Alz_Gal