Women with a rare type of ovarian cancer could benefit from a drug previously used to treat skin cancer. Experts say results of trial shows major breakthrough for type of ovarian cancer which is difficult to treat. A clinical trial has found a drug called trametinib quadruples the likelihood of response compared to standard treatments.
The drug, previously used to treat melanoma, can also halve the speed of relapse. The findings have been hailed as a “major breakthrough” by experts, as until now, low grade serious ovarian cancer has been particularly difficult to treat.
It affects women at a younger age and is often resistant to standard chemotherapy. Most patients show no evidence of disease after surgery and chemotherapy, but around 70% will subsequently relapse within three years.
Ovarian cancer is typically incurable once it returns. Patients go on to receive several types of treatment but, over time, the interval between relapses becomes progressively shorter. The trial, involving 260 patients, was led by the University of Texas and the University of Edinburgh.
Patients who received trametinib showed a chance of progression-free survival that was more than double that of those who received standard of care treatment.
The percentage of patients whose tumour shrank was more than four times higher in trametinib patients compared to those treated with the standard of care.
Professor Charlie Gourley, clinical director of the CRUK Edinburgh Centre and director of the Nicola Murray Centre for Ovarian Cancer Research, said:
“Low grade serious ovarian cancer is different from other ovarian cancers because it affects younger women and is often resistant to chemotherapy.
“This is the first positive, randomised trial in this disease and represents a major breakthrough for patients with this type of ovarian cancer.”
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