Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 198

with ovarian cancer have a BRCA mutation,
which is the most common cause of
homologous repair deficiency. In BRCA-
mutated
tumour
cells,
homologous
recombination is defective and DNA double-
strand break repair is forced to occur via
error-prone pathways, which can lead to
genomic instability and cell death.
Yet there have also been positive developments:
over a third of women suffering with ovarian
cancer will survive for at least a decade in the
UK, according to Cancer Research UK.
Furthermore, the ten-year survival rate for
women has nearly doubled during the last 40
years and early diagnosis has once again
proved beneficial, with over 90% of women
found to have the earliest stages of ovarian
cancer surviving for at least five years,
compared to only 5% of women that have been
diagnosed with the most advanced stages of
the disease.
New therapy
A welcome development for patients suffering
with advanced ovarian cancer was announced
in December 2014 after the European
Commission granted marketing authorisation
for Lynparza™ (olaparib) capsules, the first
therapy for the maintenance treatment of adult
patients with platinum-sensitive relapsed
BRCA-mutated (germline and/ or somatic) high
grade serous epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube,
or primary peritoneal cancer. The newly
licensed drug has been developed by
pharmaceutical multinational AstraZeneca and
is aimed at patients who are in complete
response or partial response to platinum-based
chemotherapy. Patients will be identified
through a validated diagnostic test before
taking the drug.
According to AstraZeneca, based in the UK,
olaparib is a poly ADP-ribose polymerase
(PARP) inhibitor that exploits tumour DNA
repair pathway deficiencies to preferentially kill
cancer cells. The development of olaparib also
provides a potential solution in tackling a
A
ccording to the European Commission, diseases of the
circulatory system are the greatest health-related cause of
death among women, representing 43% of all deaths, of which
cancer accounts for 26%. In the UK, ovarian cancer is the fifth most
common cancer that affects females, and around 65,600 new cases of
ovarian cancer are estimated to have been diagnosed in Europe during
2012, according to statistics from Cancer Research UK. The UK has the
ninth highest incidence rate of ovarian cancer compared to other
countries in the continent.
Ovarian cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer death among women,
according to global drugs company AstraZeneca, a statistic that is mainly
due to the late diagnosis of the cancer, from which the patient is often
considered as having an extremely poor prognosis. Consequently, the
death rate from ovarian cancer is unfortunately high; Cancer Research
UK estimates that 42,700 women in Europe died from the disease during
2012, with the UK having the 16th highest mortality rate compared to
other countries within the continent.
BRCA mutation
Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynaecological cancer after
uterine in the UK and the most common cause of gynaecological cancer
death. Other figures show that the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer
increases with age: three quarters of new cases in the UK, says Cancer
Research UK, are diagnosed in women that are over the age of 55. Yet
this cancer is not confined to older females – occurrences of ovarian
cancer in women aged between 15 and 39 have increased by more than
50% over the last 40 years.
In addition, data from AstraZeneca indicates that for the 61% of ovarian
cancer patients whose cancer has metastasised by the time of diagnosis,
the five-year survival rate is only 27%. Furthermore, up to 15% of women
I S S U E S I X
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
198
O N C O L O G Y
Overcoming ovarian cancer
With ovarian cancer representing a major cause of death amongst women, the
European Commission has given marketing authorisation to a new drug that
will benefit patients across the EU
A pathological
specimen of
ovarian carcinoma
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