By Kim Polacek
The statistic may sound alarming, but nearly 70 percent of all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will see her disease return. The good news is this repeat ovarian cancer is treatable. But because women with recurrent ovarian cancer often receive chemotherapy for a prolonged period of time, the toxicities of therapy are a major factor in treatment decisions.
Enter niraparib, a PARP inhibitor. PARP inhibitors are a type of targeted therapy that block a protein that helps repair DNA when it becomes damaged. This can keep cancer cells from repairing themselves once they’ve been damaged by chemotherapy, resulting in cancer cell death. Since the therapy is targeted, healthy cells are not affected.
Moffitt Cancer Center was one of the first medical institutions in the world to enroll patients in the clinical trials evaluating the use of niraparib for women with recurrent ovarian cancer. The therapy received Food and Drug Administration approval in March 2017.
Now investigators involved in those initial clinical trials are presenting new data this week at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancers that show patients who received niraparib maintenance therapy experienced not only longer progression-free survival, but also more time without side effects, such as nausea, fatigue and vomiting.
“Quality of life is an important factor when determining a patient’s treatment plan. We want patients to be able to tolerate the drug without drastically altering their day-to-day life,” said Dr. Robert Wenham, one of the niraparib clinical trial investigators and chair of Moffitt’s Department of Gynecologic Oncology.
Wenham also added that niraparib works well for patients regardless of their genetic mutation status. However, their clinical trial data found that patients with BRCA mutations had longer progression-free survival.