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Squelching Ovarian Cancer: The Not-So-Silent Killer

By September 26, 2018No Comments

Despite its long-standing nickname, ovarian cancer isn’t really a silent killer. There are symptoms; it’s just that they whisper or are commonly mistaken for something else, like aging or irritable bowel syndrome. As a result of this — and the lack of therapies for advanced disease — ovarian cancer continues to kill nearly 15,000 women a year in the U.S., most of whom are diagnosed at a late stage.

There’s been recent progress in treatment: Three new targeted drugs called PARP inhibitors have helped many ovarian patients, especially those with inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, which account for about 15 percent of all ovarian cancers. Combinations of old and new drugs have also shown promising results.

But there is much left to do to catch and squelch this killer.

Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are on the case, primarily in three of ovarian cancer’s most problematic realms: early detection and screening; differentiating the patients who won’t respond to standard chemotherapies from those who will; and developing new treatments, like immunotherapies, to beat back advanced disease.