This year alone, 21,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Of those, 14,000 will die. Because the symptoms are so subtle, most women aren't diagnosed until they are in the late stages of the disease. Now there is a new treatment that is bringing hope to some patients who have exhausted all other options.
Fifty-seven-year-old Connie Scrivens is returning to normal after a long, grueling battle. It started when she noticed changes to her abdomen; she felt bloated and went to her doctor for tests.
Scrivens says, "He said I'm 99 percent sure you have ovarian cancer." Connie's cancer was advanced. She had more than 50 tumors.
"It was pretty invasive surgery," she explains, followed by five rounds of chemo. Nothing was working.
Gynecologic Oncologist at the Institute for Gynecologic Care at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore , Neil Rosenshein, MD, had another option, a new therapy called Lynparza.
Dr. Rosenshein says, "When you give standard chemotherapy, you're affecting multiple areas, multiple organs. Here, the Lynparza is targeted directly to the cancer cells."
Because of the way the drug works, Dr. Rosenshein says it can be effective only on women with the BRACA gene mutation, like Connie. It is only available for women who have failed at least three other types of chemo.
Scrivens says, "I was told that it doesn't really affect your good cells. That was a big positive because you can imagine how many times my good cells have been knocked down."
During the first four months of treatment, Connie's cancer has been steadily shrinking; doctors are hopeful it will go into remission.
Dr. Rosenshein says, "This is a great day for Connie and her husband and for medicine in general -to see a tremendous advance."
Lynparza was approved by the FDA late last year, and is the first of a new class of drugs for ovarian cancer patients.