Targeted Therapy Turns the Page for Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Prevention & Treatment After years of plateau, research for ovarian cancer treatment is suddenly improving with a focus on preventative tactics.
Ovarian cancer is a growth of abnormal malignant cells that begin in a woman’s reproductive glands, which produce ova. Each year, close to 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed, according to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. However, scientists continue to focus studying the genes that are responsible, getting us one step closer to discovering new drugs to prevent and treat the disease.
Advancements in treatment
Standard treatments for ovarian cancer patients include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and clinical trials. In 2015, scientists and researchers reported, “marked gains in overcoming treatment resistance in several forms of blood, ovarian, lung and breast cancers.” From October 2014 to October 2015, the FDA approved 10 new forms of cancer treatment and expanded use for 12 approved therapies and one device, according to ASCO.
New treatments, called targeted therapy, take advantage of “drugs or other substances to identify and attack cancer cells while doing little damage to normal cells,” according to the American Cancer Society.
“...the FDA approved 10 new forms of cancer treatment and expanded use for 12 approved therapies and one device.”
There are different types of target treatment options available, and each works differently.
The most studied targeted therapy for ovarian cancer, Bevacizumab (Avastin) helps stop new blood vessels from forming, while poly polymerases, better knows as PARPs, are enzymes that have proven to be “key regulators of cell survival and cell death.” Drugs that inhibit PARP-1 help fight cancers caused by certain mutations.
Research surrounding these new treatment methods has shown to “keep cancer growth at bay for months to years,” according to ASCO, and focus on “underpinnings of cancer in general and of the mechanisms of drug resistance in particular.”
These monumental advancements in technology and research have been made possible through funding, including both public and private sectors. Yet despite the “progress made in improving the care of patients of cancer,” according to ASCO, “federal funding for cancer research has remained flat for more than a decade.”
A somewhat remarkable statistic, it is important for the public to recognize the value of funding when it comes to cancer prevention and treatment for each individual and family that experiences a diagnosis.
September, the designated National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, exists to encourage public awareness, action and fundraising for ovarian cancer. The movement’s most visible fundraisers include its signature Break the Silence on ovarian cancer events throughout the country. All proceeds from donations help fund the research, community events, early awareness campaigns and quality of life programs to support patients and their families.