High-dose megestrol acetate therapy of ovarian carcinoma: A phase II study by the Northern California Oncology Group

Branimir I. Sikic, Sidney A Scudder, Samuel C. Ballon, Olive M. Soriero, J. Eric Christman, Lily Suey, Mohamed N. Ehsan, Alan E. Brandt, Thomas L. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The activity of high-dose megestrol acetate was studied in 47 patients with epithelial ovarian cancers after failure of initial chemotherapy. The dose of megestrol acetate was 800 mg/d orally (PO) for 4 weeks and then 400 mg/d until tumor progression. Patients generally had far-advanced disease. Prior therapy included cisplatin, doxorubicin, and cyclophosphamide (PAC) or other cisplatin-containing regimens in 37, other combinations in eight, and single agents in only two patients. Seventeen patients (36%) developed intestinal obstructions within the first 2 months on study. Tumor histology was serous in 37, endometrioid in six, and clear-cell in two. Two thirds of the tumors were histologic grade 3, and the others were grade 2. Complete remission was obtained in one patient, with time to progression of 4 months. There were three partial remissions, with times to progression of 4, 5, and 18 months. The overall response rate (complete and partial) was 8%. Three additional patients had minor remissions (3, 5, and 8 months), and five had stable disease, for 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9 months. There was no correlation of response with grade, histologic type, or site of disease, but responding patients had a longer survival from diagnosis to protocol entry and from protocol failure to death than did nonresponding patients. The major side effect of megestrol acetate was increased appetite, which caused one patient to withdraw from the study, and resulted in a 10- to 20-kg weight gain in five patients. Plasma levels of megestrol acetate averaged 600 ng/mL in the first month of therapy and decreased to approximately 400 ng/mL at 8 and 12 weeks, after the drug dosage had been reduced. Serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels were markedly lower during megestrol therapy compared with pretreatment values. Megestrol acetate at 1 μg/mL in vitro inhibited soft agar colony formation from one of 17 specimens of ovarian carcinomas. We conclude that megestrol acetate in high doses has modest, but definite, palliative effects in some patients with advanced ovarian carcinoma in whom chemotherapy has failed. A controlled trial of megestrol plus combination chemotherapy as first-line treatment of advanced ovarian carcinoma should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-32
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Oncology
Issue number4 SUPPL. 4
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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