Women who've heard about the new Harvard study which found that the class of drugs known as statins may help prevent ovarian cancer should proceed with caution, according to specialists who spoke to SurvivorNet.
More than 50 women were found to have a decreased risk of developing ovarian cancer if they were taking a statin according to a recent study out of Harvard Medical School. It’s promising news for researchers battling ovarian cancer, which has proven challenging to treat.Read More
Unlike some other cancers, little is known about what can be done to prevent ovarian cancer aside from a full hysterectomy, or taking oral contraceptives or having children to reduce risk. These might not be realistic options for many women, so if something as simple as taking a statin might reduce risk then that could be very exciting.
Dr Dana Chase from Arizona Oncology points out, “In some cancers there are very effective prevention strategies such as avoiding tobacco use to prevent lung cancer or HPV vaccination to eliminate cervical cancer risk. Unfortunately, we have not been so lucky with ovarian cancer as there are few known ways to prevent ovarian cancer without having surgery. Certainly if you have a known inherited risk for ovarian cancer, such as a mutation in the BRCA gene, we know that removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes will reduce your risk entirely. However the majority of patients with ovarian cancer do not have the inherited BRCA mutation, thus scientists have been working hard to identify lifestyle or health behavior modifications that could lead to a reduced ovarian cancer risk.”
While a result like this is garnering attention, and might point towards where further research should be done, there’s still a long way to go to prevent ovarian cancer.
“This is an exciting finding but still should be interpreted with caution. ” Dr Amanika Kumar of the Mayo Clinic told SurvivorNet. “These observational data suggest a relationship, but the biologic mechanism and causation is certainly not clear at this point. These data suggest we should continue to investigate this important area. Prevention of ovarian cancer is key to decreased morbidity and mortality in this disease, particularly because ovarian cancer is usually diagnosed at a late stage. Improved understanding of carcinogenesis and risk factors for developing and preventing ovarian cancer is a critical area of research.”