Drug trial in Scotland offers new hope to women with ovarian cancer

Standard treatment for ovarian cancer involves surgery and chemotherapy.

Woman battling ovarian cancer could quadruple their chances of responding to treatment and halve their risk of relapse, thanks to a new drug trial conducted at Edinburgh University.

Trametinib has been used in a clinical randomised trial of women with low grade serous ovarian cancer.

Experts say the drug, once used to treat melanoma, paves the way for better results when it comes to treatment.

Standard treatment for ovarian cancer involves surgery and chemotherapy.

Most patients show no evidence of disease after being treated, but around 70 per cent will relapse within three years.

Once it returns, ovarian cancer is usually incurable.

Low grade serous ovarian cancer is different from other types of ovarian cancer in that it affects women at a younger age and is often resistant to standard chemotherapy.

The University of Edinburgh’s Nicola Murray Centre for Ovarian Cancer Research, along with the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Centre, tested 260 women.

They were randomly assigned either trametinib daily or their doctor’s choice of any five currently available therapies.

Trametinib works by blocking an abnormal signal in the cancer cell that causes it to multiply in an uncontrollably.

After around two and a half years, patients who received trametinib showed a chance of progression-free survival.

That number was 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 Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre said: “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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