Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. It is usually presented in women who are already in menopause, but it can also be detected at a younger age. The symptoms of this disease are usually confused with other ones, such as irritable bowel syndrome or colitis, because they are very similar. For example, women may experience a feeling of being bloated, pain in the abdomen, fullness of the stomach after eating, etc. Other symptoms that may be present are nausea, indigestion, abnormal vaginal bleeding, back pain and weight loss. It is why it is very important for women to have gynecologic screening procedures every once in a while, especially if there is a history of ovarian cancer in the family. Some very useful tools for this case are an abdominal or pelvic ultrasound or a transvaginal ultrasound. In case the physician finds something suspicious, further tests are carried out, such as CT scans, biopsies, etc.
Depending on the stage of the disease, there are different treatment options. Surgery is usually the first treatment form that is given. Depending on the extension of the disease, surgeons may remove ovaries, fallopian tubes or may even perform a hysterectomy. They may also remove other parts that may be affected, depending on what could be possible. Following surgery, oncologists may prescribe chemotherapy or radiotherapy. There are also some clinical trials available throughout the world, in which patients may enroll to see if they are eligible. Recently, Niraparib (Zejula®) showed great results that were presented on the most recent ESMO congress. The results showed a 57% lower risk of relapse or death for patients with HRD (homologous recombination deficiency) and that received the treatment compared with placebo. The overall survival data was also very interesting: 84% of the patients who received Niraparib were alive at 2 years compared with the survival rate of 77% of the ones who received placebo. Niraparib is a PARP inhibitor that was recently approved by the FDA for treating patients with advanced ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer who have been previously treated with three or more chemotherapy regimens and whose cancer type has an HRD positive status.
Hopefully, as more research is being conducted, there will be more treatment options for patients who have this disease.