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New treatment made available for women with ovarian cancer

Trial found Olaparib tablets can be taken for three years before the disease progresses.

By STV News

Published 09 Dec 2019.

A maintenance treatment for patients with advanced ovarian cancer has been approved for use in Scotland for the first time.

Olaparib tablets will be an option for patients with newly diagnosed BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer who have responded to chemotherapy.

A trial has found that for patients given the tablets it can be three years before the disease progresses.

Just over 600 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Scotland every year and two-thirds are diagnosed when the disease is more advanced, when the chances of survival are lower.

Professor Charlie Gourley, UK lead of the SOLO-1 Clinical Trial and clinical director of the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre, said: "Olaparib is a practice changing treatment that exploits the Achilles' heel of BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer.

"The unprecedented results of the SOLO-1 clinical trial show that giving olaparib after surgery and chemotherapy to patients who are newly diagnosed with BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer result in approximately three additional years before their disease progresses, giving them longer before further rounds of chemotherapy are needed.

"Although the data are immature, we are hopeful that this treatment may also increase overall survival in the future.

"It is now imperative that all women with ovarian cancer are tested for the BRCA mutation to give them the benefit of this therapy wherever possible."

More than 350 women die of the disease in Scotland each year. Around 22% of ovarian cancer patients carry a BRCA mutation, which can be identified via genetic testing upon referral by a healthcare professional.

Marie-Claire Platt, head of public affairs and research at Ovarian Cancer Action, said: "Today's news marks a significant advancement in how we can treat BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer in Scotland."

Biopharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca said it was delighted the drug had been accepted for use by the NHS in Scotland.

Mohit Manrao, business unit director in oncology at AstraZeneca UK, said: "We are delighted with today's decision which means that, for the first time, women with newly diagnosed BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer have access to a medicine specifically designed for their type of cancer.

"We made olaparib available to these patients in the UK via an early access programme since December 2018 and, now that it will be available within NHS Scotland, we hope that this product of British science will help to improve outcomes for these patients."