A ‘life-changing’ ovarian cancer the ‘biggest treatment breakthrough for 30 years’

Niraparib, proven to significantly delay progression of cancerous cells, will now be available to those with stage III and IV ovarian cancer from their first round of treatment and cancer charities say it will bring ‘deep relief’ to women living with the disease.

A new ovarian cancer drug approved in England this week is being called a ‘major milestone’ for treatment of the disease.

According to experts, it’s the biggest ovarian cancer breakthrough in 30 years, giving up to 3,000 more women access to targeted treatment every year.

In a statement to GLAMOUR today, Cary Wakefield, Chief Executive of Ovarian Cancer Action said: “The announcement marks a quantum leap for women with advanced ovarian cancer.

“Up until now, treatment options have sadly been extremely limited. Personalised medicine is now available to thousands of women and for many families this will be life-changing.”

Approved by NICE in England on Thursday, Niraparib is a treatment taken as a daily pill, which is designed to stop cancer cells from repairing themselves.

The decision on the drug, developed by GSK, will be replicated in Wales and Northern Ireland soon, with a verdict in Scotland expected later in 2021.

Currently in the UK, around 7,500 women are diagnosed with the disease per year* and the survival rate is just 35%.

By taking the Niraparib drug, women can put off further chemotherapy for around 12 months, affording them a better quality of life in the meantime.

Speaking on behalf of national ovarian cancer support charity Ovacome, CEO Victoria Clare told GLAMOUR: “Today’s news will bring deep relief to a great many women with advanced ovarian cancer, offering them the reassurance that they will be able to access the therapy they need on the NHS.

“It is vital that women are given every opportunity to live as full a life as possible, for as long as possible. This is what the decision offers and why it is so important to so many women.”

Previously, this kind of maintenance drug for ovarian cancer was only available to 13% of women fighting the disease.

Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, called it a ‘major breakthrough,’ saying that there hasn’t been a development like this since chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel (also known as Taxol) was introduced in 1994 – just under 30 years ago.

Other drugs, such as Olaparib (also known as Lynparza) are given to people who have a change in the BRCA gene, traditionally if the cancer has returned after platinum chemotherapy.

Niraparib can be administered to women regardless of the BRCA gene, meaning they have access to it earlier.

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