Ovarian Cancer is a serious illness and unfortunately a death sentence for too many woman who are diagnosed with it. According to the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance, the survival rate is based on how early the diagnosis was made, but the overall 10 year survival rate is 39%. Those whose cancer was detected in the earlier stages have a greater chance of recovery, but it’s never guaranteed even if caught early.
On December 19, 2016, a new drug, Rubraca, was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of patients in the advanced stages of ovarian cancer who have been treated with two or more chemotherapies and whose cancer has mutated. These women who have been fighting an uphill battle with chemotherapy and have had little results, now have an additional treatment option to keep them going. Patients with the mutated gene deleterious BRCA should look into this treatment option with their doctor. Certain BRCA genes including germline (inherited) and somatic (acquired) can be treated with Rubraca.
Rubraca does come with risks and side effects, but it also brings some hope to those suffering from advanced stages of ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, since ovarian cancer is so difficult to detect, the majority of women that are diagnosed are already in the advanced stages.
What makes this drug so important is the fact that ovarian cancer is the 5th leading cause of death in women. According to the American Cancer Society, 2017’s estimates that 22,440 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year and 14,080 women will die from it. Great strides have been made in ovarian cancer over the years, and I am hopeful that more medicines will be created to treat this terrible illness. The FDA’s approval of Rubraca gives many women who are going through chemotherapy and not responding to that treatment another treatment option.
Late stage cancer treatments give women with late stage cancer hope, but it is my hope that researchers will find ways for early detection so fewer women have to deal with the diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer.
Finding out that someone you know and care about has cancer can be extremely difficult. You may have many questions about the cancer itself and whether or not there is anything that can be done to alleviate the situation. In addition to the questions, you will also be experiencing a wide range of emotions. Depending on how close you are with the person, this can be an incredibly emotional and stressful time for too.
Now, as much as we want to remedy the situation, we have to realize that every person reacts in his or her own way. It is normal to feel sad and stressed when hearing such tragic news. In fact, it is never easy learning and accepting the news as the realities of your life. As much as you want try and forget, you have to understand that this person needs your love, attention, and care now more than ever. While they may be going through their own emotional changes and turmoil, you want to make sure you are there giving them the support and encouragement every step of the way.
When helping, the one thing you want to make sure you establish is a strong line of communication. Communication, in any sense of the word, will be key. Continue to visit them, talk with them, and engage and understand their needs. Do not feel like you always have to talk about the cancer. Instead, include them in the day-to-day activities and events going on in your life. If there isn’t something, talk to them about how they are feeling or anything of that nature. As long as you keep inviting them in, you will be able to make that transformative change that is necessary in fostering that relationship.
During treatments, the situation itself may require you to provide an all hands on deck support system, especially if the person is an immediate and close family member. These specific circumstances may require the following: driving to treatment appointments, running errands, car giving, etc. Whatever is the case, it is imperative that you show your support. As stated above, these individuals are going through their own set of emotions. For them, this is a time where they need your support. As taxing and stressful as it may be, you want to make sure you can show them that there is someone looking out for them each and every day.
Last but not least, try and rally the troops! What this means is try and gather other family members to show their support and solidarity. During this time, family will be key. For many cancer patients, it is human nature to distance themselves from others when they become ill. As much as they want keep to themselves, show them that they have a wide range of support. Having that extra effort can provide hope and encouragement during this difficult time.
Listen, learn, and understand the various symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Overview of what to expect during chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.
A patient shares her emotional and exhausting experience in battling stage 4 ovarian cancer. She describes her symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, and explains how exercise can help this disease from reoccurring.
With ovarian cancer the immune cells that are trying to fight it end up actually turning off. This is what makes ovarian cancer so dangerous. A recent study is showing that disarming a gene named XBP1 is rearming immune cells. By doing this in mice, they have been able to see some promising results. This progress has been shown through a noticeable reduction in tumor progression and burden.
With this exciting news there is still a lot to do. Replicating results in other animals is going to be the next step in order to establish some statistical significance and a wider sample size. Further analysis is going to have to be done to determine what is actually being done on a molecular level when these tumors see reduced progression. Right now there is a surface level view of possible results, but seeing why exactly this is happening is how this research goes further.
The entire article is very in depth and covers a multitude of factors and variables in these tests. If you want to read the nitty-gritty then I suggest you check it out here.
Here is a great video that I found that I want to share with you. It has some interesting ovarian cancer stats and provides a little more insight into some of the treatment and research methods that are being tested right now. The more information that everyone has about this the better, so I thought it would be worth sharing here.
PLOS Medicine just conducted a study that shows women who have extensively distinct clonal genetic subtypes in their tumors will typically have a worse survival rate for ovarian cancer. This was based on a number of tests that researchers performed such as whole-genome sequencing, tagged-amplicon sequencing, and copy number profiling in an array-based focus. These tests were performed on 14 tumor samples from 14 women.
By looking at intra-tumor heterogeneity in different areas of the tumor as well as phylogenetic patterns they were able to find some interesting data. Above average clonal heterogeneity was a typical match with shorter survival rates and short progression-free survival rates as well.
This research is a big step forward because there are still many things that we do not know about the inner workings of tumors. It still appears very spastic and random so by finding some patterns this can affect future treatment. The co-senior author of the study, James Brenton, said that this will bring a lot more insight into the process of developing more effective drugs for ovarian cancer. With this knowledge doctors can better understand how patients will respond to certain treatments and make more accurate decisions.
Intra-tumor heterogeneity has been looked at in the past in solid tumors but hasn’t been studied in relation to patient outcomes before. This past research helped researchers better understand treatment-resistant clones in blood cancers, but this next step was very important. Going further, it’s going to be important to start applying this to form more educated decisions with medicine as well as taking the research further. There’s a ways to go, but every little step is huge.