Ovarian Cancer – Some Positive News

20th January 2021 Clinical Negligence

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and with rolling news about lockdowns, tier systems and R numbers, it was easy to miss some good news last week. There has been a major breakthrough in the treatment of ovarian cancer with ‘Niraparib’ becoming available to women newly diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth-deadliest cancer in women and, although it is often responsive to treatment, it is not uncommon for it to return.  And for women with the BRCA1 gene, the chances of developing ovarian cancer is higher and the cancer is less likely to respond to treatment. 

It was brilliant news then, that Niraparib was approved by NICE this month for women who are found to have stage III or stage lV ovarian cancer, including those with the BRCA1 gene.  It has been hailed as a ‘major milestone’ in treatment of the disease with a drug which has been found to significantly delay the progression of the disease. In fact, it has been described by the chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer as the biggest breakthrough drug in cancer treatment since the chemotherapy drug, Taxol, was introduced in the 1990s.

Unfortunately, I have seen first-hand in my clinical negligence practice the devastating impact a delay in diagnosis of ovarian cancer can have.  If symptoms are acted upon too late, the disease is diagnosed at an advanced stage and the cancer is allowed to progress, there is a significant impact on both treatment options and a woman’s prognosis.  Clearly, it would be in everyone’s interests to work towards diagnosing ovarian cancer sooner but with the introduction of this new breakthrough drug, the outlook for those women diagnosed at an advanced stage is thankfully now much more positive. 

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Liz Davies is an Associate Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Clinical Negligence department

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