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A combination therapy reduces the risk of women dying from cervical cancer by 23%, figures have revealed.
Combining cisplatin with radiotherapy was already known to be capable of treating the cancer but the chances of it working to prevent death were not previously known.
Chemotherapy drug cisplatin attacks cancer cells and is used to tackle cancer of the lung, neck, head, bowel and cervix.
It contains the metal platinum and works by affecting the DNA within cancer cells to kill them off.
Dr Paul Symonds, from the department of cancer studies and molecular medicine at the University of Leicester, led the study, which is being described as a significant advance.
He and colleagues in London and Manchester examined data for cisplatin combined with radiotherapy and compared it with that for patients given radiotherapy on its own.
The study involved the case histories of more than 1,000 women from 42 cancer treatment centres in the UK, which were collected in 2001/02.
Over a five-year follow-up, treatments were recorded and notes completed, including on whether the cancer returned.
Dr Symonds said the combination of cisplatin and radiotherapy was already saving lives but his new research showed a significant fall in death risk.
The latest research, supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC), was published in the journal Clinical Oncology.
Copyright Press Association 2010