Researchers from all around the world are working hard to extend and improve the lives of cancer patients. Check-out Nick Miller’s article in yesterday’s Sidney Daily Herald, “Radical Ovarian Cancer Treatment Offers Hope:”
EARLY results from a new cancer treatment pioneered in Melbourne show that advanced ovarian cancer can be fought to a standstill – an against-the-odds result that could point to a radical new way of beating other cancers.
Researchers from the Royal Women’s Hospital and Monash University say they are increasingly excited about the trial, which began last year.
The research comes as new national figures on ovarian cancer showed that almost two-thirds of Australians diagnosed with the disease will not be alive five years later.
Professor Michael Quinn, from the Royal Women’s Hospital’s cancer unit, is leading a team testing ”immune modulation” therapy.
It works on the theory that the immune system has a 10 to 14-day cycle, during which it emits ”inhibitor cells” that stop the body fighting cancer.
The team gives small, tightly targeted chemotherapy doses at exactly the right time in the cycle to block the inhibitor cells and boost the body’s defence against the tumour.
Since last year they have given the therapy to seven women with advanced, recurrent ovarian cancer, while also working with Monash University’s department of immunology to crack the secrets of the immune cycle.
Several of the women have responded positively to the treatment, Professor Quinn said. ”These are very, very promising results,” he said. ”The tumours have stopped growing – that’s all we had hoped for. I don’t think this is the magic bullet yet but it’s certainly enough for us to continue our work.”
The treatment avoids almost all the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy, allowing patients to live more normal lives. One of the patients is 44-year-old Melissa Campbell, who went to her doctor four years ago with back pain and a bloated tummy – and came back with a diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer.
Since then, the cancer has recurred twice, putting her through surgery and excruciating chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as another experimental drug with severe side effects.
But she said the new treatment had been a totally different experience.
”It hasn’t gotten rid of [the tumour],” she said. ”But it hasn’t gotten worse. It’s keeping it under control, and fingers crossed it will get rid of it down the track.
”It’s so much easier compared to the other times.”
The chemo comes in a simple pill a few days a fortnight, rather than a trip to hospital being hooked up to a drip. One drawback is having a blood test every two days.
I take an oral chemotherapy medication for my multiple myeloma. I’m sure ovarian cancer patients would appreciate that option as well.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat