Research into ways of improving the lives and treatment of cancer patients is continually ongoing, with new treatment types and drugs getting approved each year.
One cancer that is constantly in review is ovarian cancer. According to Planned Parenthood, ovarian cancer is diagnosed in 1 in 75 women and is considered the fifth most deadly cancer for women. Risk factors include being 55 or older; a personal or family history of breast, gynecological, or colon cancer (identified as having the BRCA1 and 2 gene mutations); never having given birth or experiencing infertility; having a BMI of over 30; being diagnosed with endometriosis; and never having taken birth control.
Like all cancers, ovarian cancer begins with cells that have become abnormal in some way. In this case, the cancer cells start in, around, or on the outer layer of the ovaries. These cells grow abnormally large and because they can multiply fast, they eventually crowd out the normal functioning cells and claim the ovaries as their domain.
Traditionally, most cancers (including ovarian) are treated in two ways. Chemotherapy’s goal is to control the growth of the cancer by shrinking the tumors and destroying cells that may have spread. Radiation uses X-rays to kill the cancer cells and shrink the tumors. Additionally, there may be other treatments that coincide with the main ones to help deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and or radiation and talk therapy to help with the patient’s state of mental health.
But now, there’s a new drug in town. Already in its second phase of clinical trials, berzosertib inhibits the ability of the ATR protein to repair the DNA in cells including any cancer cells. Seventy patients across the US Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network participated in the study. Thirty-six were given only the standard chemotherapy drug gemcitabine while the other 34 were given both gemcitabine plus berzosertib.
Statistics showed that patients undergoing the standard chemotherapy treatment were stable for 14 weeks, while the patients who received the combined treatment were stable for 23. In addition, those with the most treatment-resistant tumors in the first group had a 9-week stability while those with the combination treatment had a 28-week stability. In short, patients undergoing the combination had better outcomes for a longer period of time than those who had only the standard chemotherapy. Better yet, the only side effect reported was low blood platelet levels. Though this can be concerning, these side effects are better than the side effects of many other types of treatments.
Cancer treatment is continually undergoing improvement to achieve longer lives with better outcomes and complete eradication of the cancer. Here’s to hoping that this new drug can help in the battle to overcome ovarian cancer.
- How Common Is Ovarian Cancer and What Causes It?
- What Is Ovarian Cancer
- Treatment Options – ovarian.org
- Berzosertib: Protein-Targeting Drug Used to Treat Cancer May Have Same Effect on Coronavirus | Clearity Foundation
- Berzosertib plus gemcitabine versus gemcitabine alone in platinum-resistant high-grade serous ovarian cancer: a multicentre, open-label, randomised, phase 2 trial – The Lancet Oncology