Ovarian Cancer Treatment Breakthroughs
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted breakthrough therapy designation to a drug aimed at treating recurrent low-grade serous ovarian cancer.
- Common ovarian cancer treatments include surgery and chemotherapy.
- Ovarian cancer has been called the cancer that whispers, due to its hard-to-spot symptoms which may include feeling bloated and changes in bowel habits.
The new combination treatment method, VS-6766 with defactinib, is being tested to treat low-grade serous ovarian cancers (LGSOCs), which comprise 5% to 10% of serous ovarian cancers, and make up 6% to 8% of all ovarian cancers.Read More
UCLA Medical Center gynecologic oncologist Dr. Beth Karlan says the breakthrough designation “provides added optimism that precision medicine approaches and well-designed clinical trials will meet the urgent need for sub-type specific personalized treatments for women with ovarian cancers." Dr. Karlan explains that LGSOCs typically affect younger women and are often resistant to standard chemotherapy.
Adverse side effects from the treatment included rash, creatine kinase elevation, nausea, hyperbilirubinemia (elevated bilirubin in the blood) and diarrhea.
Signs of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer has been called the cancer that whispers, due to its hard-to-spot symptoms. Approximately 21,410 women will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Symptoms of this disease may include:
- Feeling full earlier/decrease in appetite
- Feeling bloated
- Changes in bowel habits
- Pain in the pelvis
- Urinary symptoms, such as an urgent need to go
- Extreme fatigue
- Abdominal swelling
- Pain during sex
Dr. Karlan says in an earlier interview, “Ovarian cancer does not have any specific symptoms. It’s often referred to as the cancer that whispers, in that it has symptoms that are really very vague, and can affect men and women, and nothing that may bring your attention directly to the ovaries.”
“The symptoms include things like feeling full earlier than you usually would when your appetite is strong,” she says. “Feeling bloated. Some changes in your bowel habits. Some pain in the pelvis.”
Ovarian Cancer Treatment Options
Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy and targeted therapies such as PARP inhibitors. Some people battling ovarian cancer who undergo chemotherapy experience negative side effects, which may include nausea, hair loss, fatigue, sore mouth and loss of appetite.
In an earlier interview, Dr. Michael Ulm, a gynecologic oncologist at West Cancer Center, explained how there are new options available for mitigating the negative side effects caused by chemo. He says, “One of the things that’s changed in the coronavirus days is that now we’re giving everybody this drug called Neupogen or Neulasta. And it helps boost your white count to mitigate the effects of chemotherapy.
“One of the other main things that carboplatin causes is fatigue,” says Dr. Ulm. “And in general, that’s cumulative. So I tell my patients that with the first couple of cycles, you do pretty well. The other drug is called Taxol. It can also cause problems with your bone marrow, like anemia, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia. One of the things that patients worry most about is nausea with chemotherapy. With modern medicine and modern antiemetics that you should never have severe nausea. And you should never throw up.”