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Conquer Cancer Health News

Chemotherapy-radiation combo effective against cervical cancer
April 30, 1999 ABCNEWS.com

(AccentHEALTH) -- Dr. Ira Horowitz, an oncologist at Emory University in Atlanta, says he has experienced good results treating patients with cervical cancer using a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.

"We've been able to shrink fairly large tumors, and in fact many times curing the patient from cervical cancer," he said.

Horowitz's patients were some of those involved in five new clinical studies. The findings were so conclusive among hundreds of patients across the country that the National Cancer Institute is taking the unusual step of writing to thousands of doctors, urging them to start using the combination approach immediately.

The studies show death rates from cervical cancer that had spread to the pelvis were cut from 30 to 50 percent after combination treatment.

"Chemotherapy is thought to affect the tumor to make it more sensitive to radiation," Horowitz said. "So we can give a certain amount of radiation to the tumor -- the cancer -- and with the chemotherapy, we can have a greater effect in killing the tumors."

Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States. Pap smears were introduced in the 1940s, cutting those death rates to among the lowest.

Still, according to the National Cancer Institute, 13,000 women are diagnosed every year and 4,800 die annually from the disease.

NCI doctors say making a combination of chemotherapy and radiation standard could save thousands of lives every year.

Medical Correspondent Eileen O'Connor contributed to this report

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