Ovarian Cancer Maintenance Treatment
- Ovarian cancer fighter Sherry Pollex and her NASCAR driver partner Martin Truex Jr. are ending their longterm relationship, Truex Jr. said in a statement Friday.
- Pollex was diagnosed at age 35 in 2014. She has used chemotherapy to treat her disease, and she spoke in an earlier interview with SurvivorNet about being a cancer fighter.
- PARP inhibitors can be used for maintenance treatments for ovarian cancer. These drugs treat ovarian cancer at the gentic level.
- Women with ovarian cancer may want to consider undergoing genetic testing to see if they have the BRCA mutation.
View this post on InstagramRead MoreTruex Jr. shared the news in an Instagram story on Friday. The New Jersey native and NASCAR driver said in his statement:
"To my fans and partnersâ€¦ Sherry and I have made the decision to end our relationship. I will continue supporting Sherry moving forward. I would ask that you respect our privacy as there will be no further comment about this matter."
Pollex’s Ovarian Cancer Journey
Pollex was given a 30% chance of survival over the course of five years when she was diagnosed in 2014 at age 35 with stage three ovarian cancer, reports TobyChristie.com. Eight years and counting, Pollex continues to live with cancer and manage it. She has entered remission a number of times. Her cancer returned in July 2022 and spread to her lung.
Pollex told The Athletic in a previous interview that her cancer may help her pave the way for other cancer fighters. "I often wonder if that's my purpose here,” she says. “It's maybe not what I would have chosen for myself nobody really wants to be the poster child for any type of cancer but maybe I'm supposed to go through all this so I can pave the way for other women."
She continues, "On some days, that can be a really hard pill to swallow. But on other days, it's like, 'You know, I've been given this really important role in this life, and if I'm going to leave a legacy behind and help other people, then I need to do it 100 percent."
Pollex spoke with SurvivorNet in April 2022, and she reflected on the idea of being a cancer “warrior.” She tells SurvivorNet, "It's hard to see yourself as a warrior when you're in it. You're in fight or flight mode.”
The last time Sherry underwent chemotherapy, a few months before her latest recurrence, she, unfortunately, found out that her cancer was what they call "platinum resistant," so she and her medical team are determined to find other options. Surgery is not an option, she tells SurvivorNet, because her cancer spread from her lung to her esophagus.
"It's heavy, because it's not like you're just making a decision on your house or your car," she tells us. "It's your life. What you decide needs to work. The pressure and the mental side of it is really hard."
PARP Inhibitors for Ovarian Cancer Maintenance Treatment
PARP stands for poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, and these drugs can be used for the maintenance treatment of ovarian cancer. These drugs are taken orally and they work by preventing cancer cells from being able to repair DNA damage, which then leads to cell death.
Zejula (also known as niraparib) is a type of PARP inhibitor. Zejula maintenance therapy conferred clinically significant benefit versus placebo to patients with newly diagnosed advanced ovarian cancer, without significant impact on safety profile.
Experts tell SurvivorNet that every woman with ovarian cancer should get a genetic test to determine if they have a mutation called BRCA, because the mutation enables PARP inhibitors to function much more powerfully. But data show that even women without BRCA mutations can still derive some benefit from these drugs.
Dr. Dana Chase, a gynecologic oncologist at Arizona Oncology, tells SurvivorNet that PARP inhibitor maintenance therapy is highly effective and can even impact survival in a very positive way, especially for BRCA mutated patients: "for those patients [BRCA mutated], for sure, I strongly believe they should be on a PARP inhibitor."
Maintenance treatment for ovarian cancer can also include the use of targeted therapy, like the drug Rucaparib (Rubraca). It can be used in women with or without a BRCA mutation, reports Cancer.org. And it can be used as a maintenance treatment for advanced ovarian cancer that has recurred.
PARP inhibitors are now options as part of ovarian cancer treatment for a growing number of women, as part of maintenance therapy after first chemotherapy or platinum sensitive recurrence, or as a single agent treatment for recurrent ovarian cancer.
PARP inhibitors work best when there is a second error in DNA repair, such as that caused by a mutation in BRCA. BRCA is a critical player in homologous recombination, a highly effective double stranded DNA repair process. BRCA is not the only important part of homologous recombination, other genes are involved. The label homologous recombination deficient (HRD) indicates a tumor that has one of many possible errors in the double stranded DNA repair process of homologous recombination.
The jury is out on exactly what causes ovarian cancer. Considering that both pregnancy and taking birth control pills lower the risk for ovarian cancer, and both reduce the number of times a woman ovulates throughout her lifetime, some researchers think that there may be a link between ovulation and the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
A few factors might increase the risk for ovarian cancer. Having these factors doesn't mean you will definitely get this cancer, only that your risk is slightly higher.
Ovarian cancer risk is elevated for people who have gone through menopause, have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, are overweight, or had first pregnancy after the age of 35.
Your risk may also be higher if you have close family members (such as your mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother) who have had ovarian, breast, or colorectal cancer. Genes that increase the risk for these cancers run in families.
Ovarian Cancer Survivorship: Mareva Godfrey’s Story
Mareva Godfrey is an ovarian cancer survivor. In an earlier interview with SurvivorNet, she reflected on her cancer journey. She is committed to thriving no matter what and also to remaining a sexual being, even after the loss of parts of her body that were tied to femininity. For many women who go through gynecological cancers, learning to feel sexy or to feel comfortable being intimate is a real challenge.
Godfrey says, “There's a huge worry in terms of identity in terms of your femininity and your ability to feel like a woman," she says. "Not only did I say goodbye to my reproductive organs, but I also was very concerned that I would have to say goodbye to my libido and my sexual life."
"Even at my age, there are a lot of men out there, and you can find them through dating sites or you can join meet-ups, which is actually more organic," she says.
Godfrey affirms that she wants to move on with life and continue living it. “I don’t know if I’ll have another recurrence, but I’m not forfeiting a day in worry or anxiety or what-ifs,” she explains. “Worry is like sitting in a rocking chair. It’ll give you something to do, but it will not take you anywhere. And my intent is to keep moving forward.”
Contributing: SurvivorNet staff