Hospital in National Study of Drug To Treat Precancerous Condition
Cervical dysplasia, the abnormal development of cells on the cervix, is diagnosed in more than 250,000 women in the United States each year. If not treated, the condition can turn into cervical cancer, the third most common type of cancer in women.
Surgery to remove abnormal cells is the standard treatment for cervical dysplasia, and it is effective in about 90 percent of cases.
"Even though we can treat this disease fairly easily with surgery, it would be good to have an alternative," says Dr. John Byron, an OB/GYN specialist with the Southern Pines Women's Health Center and the principal investigator for the clinical trial. "One reason to avoid surgery is that if cervical dysplasia comes back, the patient has to have surgery again.
"Surgery increases the risk of having problems with pregnancy such as pre-term labor and premature birth."
Medical researchers are looking for a drug that might eliminate the need for surgery. Celebrex, an anti-inflammatory medication, showed promising results in a small pilot study completed last year. The current study is designed to determine to what extent the drug is effective in curing cervical dysplasia.
Some patients will take Celebrex for six weeks, while others will be given a placebo. Surgery will be recommended for patients whose dysplasia is not cured or significantly reduced.
The study is sponsored by the national Gynecology Oncology Group (GOG). Moore Regional is a member of the GOG through its affiliation with UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.
Women who are diagnosed with cervical dysplasia by local gynecologists will be offered the opportunity to enroll in the study provided they meet the strict clinical criteria.
Women with uncontrolled high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease will be excluded from the study, because Celebrex was associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular problems in a large colon cancer prevention study. However, in another large study in which patients took high doses of Celebrex, there was no increase in cardiovascular problems.
Patients who want more information about the study or have questions about their eligibility can call Pat Young, a registered nurse and clinical trials coordinator at Moore Regional Hospital, at (910) 715-2200.
Cervical dysplasia is diagnosed most often in women in their 20s and 30s. Most cases are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), of which there are more than 80 different strains. About a third of those strains are sexually transmitted, including several that are closely associated with cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. Each year, more than 13,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer.
In recent weeks, there have been media reports about the development of a vaccine to prevent HPV.
"We hope the vaccine will eventually eliminate at least 70 percent of HPV cases," Byron says. "But the vaccine won't treat people who already have the disease, so it is still important that we find a good drug treatment."
More like this story