An experimental treatment trains a woman’s immune system to target her own ovarian tumors.

This treatment has helped at least 20 women live longer.

Researchers believe that this new treatment could point to a way to manage one of the deadliest cancers.

Ovarian cancer kills almost all those attained by it. It comes back after the first treatment in about 80% of women. It is expected to be diagnosed in more than 21,000 American women this year and kill more than 14,000.

Researchers also believe that older cancer drugs may also help women live longer with ovarian cancer. For example, Avastin,  drug used for a variety of cancers, added five months on average to women’s lives without as many side effects.

Unfortunately neither treatment successfully cured the patients. But both reports offer hope for the future.

The standard treatment is surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Women lose their hair, suffer nausea, weight loss and diarrhea.

In the study, all the women received surgery and chemotherapy. Afterwards some received one injection every month or modified tumor cells for any time period ranging from four to twelve months.

On average the cancer came back in the women after 14 months who did not get the immunotherapy. To date, the cancer has not come back in most of the women who received the immunotherapy.

The second trial observed the effect of Avastin taken after the surgery and chemotherapy. The study found that Avastin on average added five months to each woman’s life.

Although Avastin can cause a range of bad side effects including stomach bleeding, overall the side effects were not as severe in these patients.

Ovarian Cancer has been a topic of conversation lately due to Angelina Jolie’s recent announcement of the removal of her ovaries to avert her very high risk of ovarian cancer.

Gerry Oginski
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