Researchers reported a number of important findings in ovarian cancer treatment at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology:

Drug combination studied in treatment of advanced or recurrent ovarian cancer

The TOPACIO trial found that a combination of the drugs niraparib and pembrolizumab to be significantly more effective than either drug alone in treating advanced or recurrent ovarian cancer.

Niraparib is a PARP inhibitor, a type of drug designed to destroy cancer cells by preventing them from repairing their damaged DNA. Pembrolizumab is a type of immunotherapy called a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor.

What Patients Need to Know

The combination of niraparib and pembrolizumab produced an “objective response” (a reduction in tumor size of a defined amount) in 25 percent of the trial participants and in 45 percent of those whose tumors had BRCA mutations. The objective response rate was less than 5 percent in women treated with niraparib or another PARP inhibitor alone and 11 percent in women treated with pembrolizumab alone.

The trial results also pertained to the treatment of advanced triple-negative breast cancer.

Triple combination of drugs showed promise in early stage trial

The phase Ib/II trial DeCidE is evaluating the effectiveness and safety of combining the investigational drug DPX-Survivac (a T-cell activating therapy) with low-dose cyclophosphamide (a chemotherapy) and an IDO1 enzyme inhibitor for the treatment women with advanced recurrent ovarian cancer. The IDO1 enzyme is activated in many human cancers, including ovarian cancer.

What Patients Need to Know

The triple combination of drugs showed promise in treating women with advanced recurrent ovarian cancer and will continue to be studied.

Dendritic cell vaccine shows promise as maintenance therapy

Dendritic cells help the immune system recognize and fight cancer cells. A phase II multicenter trial showed that administering a dendritic cell vaccine after surgery and chemotherapy improved progression-free survival (the length of time during and after treatment that the cancer did not get worse) in women with epithelial ovarian cancer.

What Patients Need to Know

Epithelial ovarian cancer often recurs after surgery and chemotherapy. Adding a dendritic cell vaccine to the treatment regimen shows promise as maintenance therapy to delay disease progression.

Combining olaparib with cediranib to treat platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer

A phase II trial compared the effectiveness of combining olaparib (which blocks DNA repair) with cediranib (a blood vessel inhibitor) versus olaparib alone in women with platinum-sensitive recurrent ovarian cancer.

Both olaparib and cediranib are oral drugs.

What Patients Need to Know

The trial results showed that combining the two drugs nearly doubled progression-free survival) compared to use of olaparib alone. Combining olaparib and cediranib also improved overall response rates.

Investigational drug studied in treatment of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer

Apatinib is an investigational anti-angiogenic drug designed to block the growth of blood vessels that support tumor growth. A phase II trial tested the effectiveness and safety of combining apatinib with the oral chemotherapy etoposide in treating ovarian cancer that is platinum-resistant or refractory (not responding to other types of treatment).

What Patients Need to Know

The trial found that adding apatinib to etoposide could improve outcomes in the treatment of platinum-resistant or refractory ovarian cancer, with manageable side effects.