KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Four thousand women in the U.S. will die and another 12,000 will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year alone. While there's no cure, researchers are excited about a new therapy that could improve and even extend the lives of patients with recurring or advanced disease.
For Lisa McDevitt, there's nothing better than hitting the road in her limited edition "warriors in pink" Mustang.
"I actually had a woman follow me home, and she wanted to know how much, and I was like, 'It's not for sale,'" McDevitt, a cervical cancer patient, said.
The car is McDevitt's reward for successfully battling and beating cervical cancer twice. Her doctor at the time said she wouldn't survive round two.
"She said you will be dead within six years. I really was just ready to die," McDevitt said.
That's when Dr. Larry Kilgore asked her to join a clinical trial for patients with advanced or recurrent cervical cancer. Researchers are testing a new therapy that combines the biologic drug Avastin with chemotherapy.
"So, the chemotherapy kills the cancer cells and the biologic agent stops blood vessel growth so tumors can't grow. It's a real, real advance," said Kilgore, a professor of gynecologic oncology and division director at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
Results from the phase 3 trial showed patients who received Avastin and chemo lived an average of 17 months, compared to about 13 months for those treated with chemo alone. As for McDevitt, it's been two years since her last chemo.
"Yes, she is disease-free. We will have to follow her to see, but so far, so good," Kilgore said.
While Avastin is FDA-approved for the treatment of some cancers, including colorectal and lung cancer, it's not currently approved for cervical cancer. You can still get the treatment, but your insurance company may not cover it and the treatment can cost thousands of dollars per month.
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