New Ovarian Cancer Treatment Gets NHS Approval, Found To Extend Lives

The backbone of England’s healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS), estimates that half of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will only live up to the next five years while about one third could live for up to 10 years. This is the reason health professionals deemed it necessary to find a drug to treat women with ovarian cancer in the early stages. So far, olaparib is given to selected women at a later stage after three doses of chemotherapy. 

Now, in a huge medical breakthrough, the very same medicine, olaparib, was approved by the NHS, reported The Independent. It is for usage after the first round of chemotherapy and particularly for women with the BRCA mutation.

However, this is only for those women with the BRCA gene mutation because it poses a higher risk of mortality. For every 100 women who have ovarian cancer, around five to 15 people are said to possess the gene, so it does serve the needs of a market. Oncologists hope that in the future it will help women other than those who are stuck with the mutation. 

The Cancer Research reported 7,470 new cases of ovarian cancer from 2014 to 2016 in U.K. Hence, there is an urgent need to make some improvement in medical treatment. The BBC had also reported that olaparib, considered to be a generic chemotherapy drug, will be accessible to the same patients with a recent diagnosis. This has to accompany platinum-based chemotherapy drugs given as the first-line treatment.

How does this work? Olaparib targets the genetic fault manifested by poly-ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) protein  and kills cancer cells before they can multiply. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) gauged that up to 700 women with the BRCA gene mutation need to be treated for the disease on a yearly basis. Tablets can be taken twice a day after the first round of chemotherapy itself, according to researchers. 

In the clinical trial, the cancer did not escalate for three years on six or 60 percent of the 10 people who took the drug. They were compared to 27 percent of the people on placebo medication to arrive at the results. The clinical data available at The Royal Marsden Hospital revealed that 70 percent risk of dying due to ovarian cancer was reduced in comparison to the group taking the placebo medication.

Dr. Susana Banerjee, a medical oncologist at the hospital, told The Independent that ‘‘olaparib heralds a new era for women with ovarian cancer.’’ Banerjee added, “This means that more women will have a longer time before relapse, time of chemotherapy and the possibility of increased survival.”

Pills To Replace Chemo? A New Way To Fight Ovarian Cancer Olaparib, a chemotherapy drug given at a later stage, is now going to be available for women recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The NHS has approved it for immediate availability. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.