Drug may stop can­cer

Ovar­ian can re­cur but help is near

Sunshine Coast Daily - Caloundra Weekly - - LIFE HEALTHY LIVING - Sue Dun­levy

A BREAK­THROUGH new treat­ment for ovar­ian can­cer that aims to stop the dis­ease re­turn­ing by killing off the can­cer’s stem cells is un­der­go­ing safety trials in Australia.

Ovar­ian can­cer is the dead­li­est fe­male can­cer in Australia – more than 1600 women will be di­ag­nosed with the dis­ease this year and it will kill 1000 women.

Only 44 per cent of women who de­velop the can­cer sur­vive for more than five years; by com­par­i­son breast can­cer has a 90 per cent five-year sur­vival rate.

Ovar­ian Can­cer Australia CEO Jane Hill said a lack of re­search fund­ing meant treat­ment for the dis­ease was the same to­day as it was in the 1970s and in­volved surgery and gru­elling chemo­ther­apy.

Eight in ten women re­spond to surgery and ini­tial chemo­ther­apy treat­ment but more than half will have a re­lapse within two years and their can­cer will be­come re­sis­tant to drugs.

Re­cently new drugs called PARP in­hibitors have been shown to in­crease pro­gres­sion-free sur­vival times in some ovar­ian can­cer pa­tients by months to sev­eral years but only one is avail­able here.

Now Aus­tralian sci­en­tists and Aus­tralian phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany Kazia Ther­a­peu­tics are work­ing on a new treat­ment called Cantrixil that is de­liv­ered di­rectly into stom­ach tis­sue via a por­tal that is in­stalled sur­gi­cally.

Icon Can­cer Care on­col­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Jim Cow­ard, who is lead­ing the trial, says cer­tain can­cer stem cells are not de­stroyed dur­ing ini­tial chemo­ther­apy treat­ment and af­ter ly­ing dor­mant for a while they be­gin to grow again.

“When you re­lapse you usu­ally re­lapse with nod­ules in your tummy,” he says.

“Cantrixil could be a com­pelling treat­ment for pa­tients with re­cur­rent ovar­ian can­cer be­cause it has shown ev­i­dence in the lab­o­ra­tory of be­ing able to tar­get and kill the sub-pop­u­la­tion of can­cer stem cells or tu­mour-ini­ti­at­ing cells that are re­spon­si­ble for can­cers orig­i­nat­ing, metas­ta­sis­ing and re­laps­ing.”

Pro­fes­sor Cow­ard says the first hu­man trial of the treat­ment be­gan in 2016 and is test­ing whether the drug is safe and ef­fi­ca­cious and it will work out the op­ti­mum dose.

Women tak­ing part in the trial so far have re­ported no ma­jor side ef­fects and the treat­ment is be­ing used in con­junc­tion with stan­dard chemo­ther­apy. Early re­sults are ex­pected later this year, he says.

Pro­fes­sor Cow­ard says if the treat­ment works in ovar­ian can­cer it may then be tri­alled in other can­cers such as col­orec­tal, stom­ach and pan­cre­atic can­cers.

Any woman who ex­pe­ri­ences the main symp­toms of ovar­ian can­cer for more than a month should see their doc­tor.

Those symp­toms are: ab­dom­i­nal or pelvic pain; in­creased ab­dom­i­nal size or per­sis­tent ab­dom­i­nal bloat­ing; the need to uri­nate of­ten or ur­gently; or feel­ing full af­ter eat­ing a small amount.

The trial is run­ning in Syd­ney, Ade­laide and Bris­bane. Women who wish to take part should visit the web­site www.aus­tralian­cancer­tri­als .gov.au or type Cantrixil into a search en­gine.

PHOTO: IS­TOCK

NEW TREAT­MENT: More than 1000 women will die from ovar­ian can­cer this year and 1600 oth­ers will be di­ag­nosed with it.

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