Current therapies for recurrent ovarian cancer (OC) yield relatively modest improvements in survival. Many drugs are available but recently a renewed interest is addressed on antimetabolite drugs. Pemetrexed (PEM) is a multitargeted antifolate cytotoxic agent mainly used in lung cancer. Areas covered: This review summarizes the available evidence on the use of PEM in the treatment of OC. This article consists of material obtained via Medline, PubMed and EMBASE literature searches, up to November 2011. Currently available published data on mechanism of action, pharmacokinetics, safety and efficacy of PEM in the treatment of recurrent OC are described.
Eight trials evaluated the use of PEM in OC patients. Studies using PEM in combination with carboplatin in platinum-sensitive OC suggested that the response rate is similar to other combination therapies. However, based on the absence of randomized trials comparing this doublet with currently used combination treatments, it is difficult to draw conclusions on the efficacy of PEM regimens in these patients. In platinum-resistant OC patients, two studies suggested that PEM alone might have equivalent activity to other single-agent treatment. Further pharmacogenomic and clinical data are warranted to better define the role of PEM in the treatment of recurrent OC.