Thousands more women in England will be able to receive an ovarian cancer-fighting drug named Niraparib. The drug will be given to women who have been diagnosed with an advanced stage of ovarian cancer in order to help prevent the regrowth of tumours post chemotherapy.
Effectiveness of the treatment
In preliminary trial results, the disease was shown to not have resurfaced for an average of six months longer than the results of placebo treatments. This is especially impactful on women who are in remission for longer periods of time as this can allow them to live a more comfortable life.
Although the drug itself isn't new, it was previously only available to women who experience a cancer recurrence.
With figures showing that more than 7,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK each year, and around 4,100 of them passing away from the illness, this treatment will truly change everything for those battling with the disease.
A form of cancer that often goes undetected
Annwen Jones of the Target Ovarian Cancer charity says:
'Today’s announcement is a major milestone in the fight against ovarian cancer, bringing hope during a pandemic where we have serious concerns about how many women are being diagnosed late. It’s the first time thousands of women will benefit from this innovative drug from the very beginning of treatment.
Ovarian cancer is referred to as the 'silent killer' in the medical field due to its symptoms often being mistaken for less serious conditions.
Statistics show that about 60% of patients are diagnosed only after the tumour has already spread beyond reversibility. Which is why, Jones believes that:
We haven’t had such a breakthrough drug available to so many since the introduction of chemotherapy drug paclitaxel – Taxol - in the 1990s.
Professor Jonathan Ledermann from University College London explains that the decision to facilitate access to the the treatment will be a:
turning point in advanced ovarian cancer treatment, allowing clinicians to use a key therapy at an earlier phase of treatment and in many more women than ever before. This could significantly increase the likelihood that we can delay a woman’s cancer from progressing – for months, perhaps even years longer than is currently possible.