Background: Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women. It is associated with a poor prognosis, as the majority of patients present with advanced disease and relapse after radical surgery, and following chemotherapy with carboplatin and paclitaxel.
Objective: To review the role of topotecan in the treatment of advanced and relapsed ovarian cancer, and the efficacy and safety of novel dosing regimens and formulations of topotecan. It will also discuss further options of combination of topotecan with other cytotoxic agents and targeted therapies.
Research design and methods: The authors searched for relevant references in the MEDLINE database and in congress abstracts of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Results: Topotecan is an established second-line therapy for advanced and relapsed ovarian cancer; a regimen of 1.5 mg/m(2)/day 1-5 has been approved in the USA and many other western countries. Topotecan is well tolerated; associated haematological toxicity is generally manageable, reversible and non-cumulative. A number of alternative dosing regimens and formulations have been investigated in an attempt to improve the toxicity profile of topotecan without compromising anti-tumour activity. A novel oral formulation of topotecan has shown clinical promise in patients with advanced and relapsed disease. Administration of i.v. topotecan on a weekly basis produced encouraging results in several phase II trials, with less haematological toxicity and similar response rates to the day 1-5 regimen. Also, recent early studies demonstrate that topotecan is effective in combination with several other therapeutic agents in the relapsed setting.
Conclusion: The peer-reviewed literature reports that topotecan is an effective, well tolerated treatment option for relapsed ovarian cancer.