This Drug Could Slow BRCA-Mutated Ovarian Cancer Progression

According to a story from Medical Xpress, a recent study suggested that the targeted cancer drug olaparib could be an effective treatment for women with ovarian cancer that has been linked to BRCA mutations. In the study, the drug was capable of halting disease progression or delaying relapse in patients with advanced disease.

About Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer can appear on or within the ovary. Ovarian cancer rarely causes distinctive symptoms in its early stages, so many patients are often diagnosed with advanced disease. The risk of getting ovarian cancer is connected to how long a woman has ovulated during her life; women who ovulate for longer periods are at greater risk. Late menopause or early puberty are risk factors, as are not having children, fertility medication, certain genetic variants and mutations (such as BRCA mutations), and exposure to talc, herbicides, and pesticides. Some symptoms of ovarian cancer include fatigue, bloating, a feeling of fullness, loss of appetite, indigestion, abdominal swelling, and pelvic pain. Treatment can include chemo, radiation, surgery, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy. There are many different kinds of ovarian cancer. Five year survival rate is 45 percent in the US. To learn more about ovarian cancer, click here.

BRCA Mutations

This study included women that had been recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer as well as women who had recently received chemotherapy that had either partially or entirely caused their cancer to recede. It should be noted that these women all had disease that is related to BRCA mutations. BRCA mutations are linked to a greatly increased risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer in women. In fact, women who test positive for these mutations are of recommended to take preventative action to avoid getting cancer.

About the Study

The researchers found that taking a course of olaparib after chemotherapy reduced the chance of disease progression or death by as much as 70 percent. Patients who used the medication saw their disease progression delayed by an average of 36 months.

Olaparib is a PARP inhibitor that is precisely tailored to treat cancer associated with BRCA mutations. BRCA mutated cancer often use the PARP protein to repair damage to cancer cells, and olaparib can prevent it from doing so, therefore causing cancer cells to die at a much greater rate. The research was originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


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