Late Stage Ovarian Treatment Approved

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.


New Ovarian Cancer Study

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.

Sabah Mikha – Dogs Used To Detect Ovarian Cancer In Early Stages (3)

The dogs trained in detection have a 90% accuracy rate, and with their ability to find odorants at such a low level makes them very valuable for early detection. Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death among women, but with early diagnosis, the survival rate is more than 90% over a 5-year period. With more 80% of patients being diagnosed in the late stages, all forms of detection can be a valuable weapon towards fighting the disease.


Sabah Mikha – Dogs Used To Detect Ovarian Cancer In Early Stages (2)

What a group of researchers have found that a dog’s sense of smell alongside DNA analysis as means of detecting ovarian cancer in its early stages. The dogs were trained within a laboratory setting to smell for cancer, receiving a reward upon successful detection. Material known as volatile organic compounds (VOC), or odorants are changed in the early stages of ovarian cancer. Trained dogs working in tandem with electronic detection devices have been able to pick upon these odorants in very small quantities.