Tag Archives: ovarian cancer

A Physician’s Experience Becoming an Ovarian Cancer Patient

By Dr. Bebi Samantha Bacchus

My stage IIIC ovarian cancer diagnosis in June of last year took me by surprise, as it would most people. At this stage, the cancer is in one or both ovaries or fallopian tubes and deposits of cancer larger than two centimeters may have spread into the abdomen. I had been struggling with gynecologic disorders for years and had begun experiencing pelvic pain and a decrease in appetite. Still, with no history of breast or ovarian cancer in my family, I had no expectation of a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

As a pediatrician of 21 years, parents have come to me with questions about the health of their children, from the routine to the serious. I welcome their quest for answers because an informed patient is an empowered patient. I took this experience with me as I embarked on my own treatment plan. Armed with the recommendation from my geneticist and the support of my family, I decided to put an end to the nagging suspicion that the gynecologic health problems my sister, niece, first cousins and I had experienced over the years were due to more than just “bad luck.” I decided to follow the new guidelines for those diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which recommend genetic testing regardless of family history. This resulted in learning that I have a BRCA (BReast CAncer) gene mutation, which is not only important for my family to know, but also key in guiding treatment decisions.

I strongly believe the more you know about this disease, the more control you have as a patient and the better you are able to handle it. I am also certain that my experience attending the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) National Conference in July and Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE)’s Joining FORCEs Against Hereditary Cancer conference in June, as well as being a member of the BRCA Sisterhood Facebook group have better positioned me to live well with this disease. Hearing the stories of amazing women – some of whom have been living with ovarian cancer for 20 years – gives me hope and makes me feel that I belong to a group of strong and courageous women.

I am so grateful to my treatment team for how quickly they worked together to arrange my consultations, staging and surgery. I underwent treatment, had a hysterectomy and am currently in remission. The doctors tell me I am disease-free and that I should come back every three months, but any ache or pain makes me wonder whether this will be the day that I relapse. Over the past year I have learned how different your life becomes after being diagnosed. I started looking back at my medical practice, and realized that I, as a physician, may not always realize the impact my words have on other patients (and their parents). I think it has made me more empathetic – or sympathetic – to patients and what they experience.

While a diagnosis with ovarian cancer can be horrible and cause a great deal of emotional and physical pain, I realized it has also given me an opportunity to live a better life. My life has become richer and fuller because of the women I have met, the growing appreciation I have for my family, and the realization that my friends care deeply about me. It is important that we realize we are important, that we slow down and take some time for ourselves to heal.


Dr. Bebi Samantha Bacchus is a pediatrician residing in Glendale, Pennsylvania. She was diagnosed with stage IIIC ovarian cancer in 2014.

For more resources on ovarian cancer visit MyOCJourney.com, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered and Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.

Personalized Healthcare: Early Diagnostics, More Targeted Treatment

By Paul Hudson, President, AstraZeneca US and Executive Vice President, North America

Families will come together to celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, the same day Women’s Health Week begins in the United States. This time of year, in particular, makes me reflect on the opportunity we have in healthcare to profoundly impact the future of women’s health. New advancements in diagnostics and treatment have the potential to significantly improve women’s health – notably among ovarian, breast and lung cancer patients.

At AstraZeneca, we understand the healthcare system is moving away from a singular approach for all, and toward treating diseases with an increased focus on personalized healthcare.

The promise of personalized healthcare is clear: It can enable doctors to more quickly identify which treatments will be most effective for individual patients based on their genetic makeup. Personalized healthcare means we can identify when a potential treatment requires an individualized strategy at an early stage and develop an integrated diagnostic plan. This helps get the right treatments to the right patients at the right times – even faster.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of oncology, where more effective and targeted treatments are helping cancer patients live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Since its peak in 1991, the cancer death rate is down 20 percent and the five-year survival rate has climbed to 68 percent.

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Despite this progress, there is still much work to be done. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States, and breast cancer remains the most common cancer among American women. Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system and is often diagnosed late because symptoms mirror everyday ailments.

5.8.15 img 2But there’s promise. For these women, it is vital that they understand their tumor type and hormone status so they and their doctors can tailor the most effective individual treatment plans possible. At AstraZeneca, we’re working side by side with leading scientists from different disciplines to better understand how complex data can be converted into innovative treatments. For example, over 80 percent of our pipeline across therapeutic areas is being developed with a personalized healthcare strategy and more than 30 programs have a companion diagnostic test.

For ovarian cancer in particular, up to 15 percent of women have a BRCA mutation, but nearly half of women with ovarian cancer and a BRCA mutation have no significant family history. Despite the fact that major guidelines recommend that all patients living with ovarian cancer be considered for BRCA testing, not all women living with ovarian cancer are tested. By collaborating with experts in diagnostics, we’re working to drive an increase in testing and a greater awareness of risks so that innovative treatments can be matched to those patients who will benefit most.

5.8.15 img 1We’re also using personalized approaches for testing lung cancer, which accounts for about 13 percent of all new cancer cases in the United States. There are currently limited options for treating patients with advanced or metastatic lung cancer. Targeted therapies and companion diagnostics may improve treatment outcomes for patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). AstraZeneca has pioneered targeted lung cancer treatments, and we are committed to advancing knowledge of patient management and diagnostic testing in advanced NSCLC.

There continues to be significant positive news in our fight against cancer in the United States and around the world. Taken together, increased education, improved treatments and advanced diagnostic tools are helping doctors make faster, more accurate decisions that are helping patients lead healthier, longer lives.

US FDA Approves a New Force in the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer

One of the leading causes of ovarian cancer is an inherited genetic mutation in one of two genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Of the 1.4 percent of all women who will develop ovarian cancer by 70 years of age, 39 percent will have a BRCA1 mutation and 11 to 17 percent a BRCA2 mutation.

Currently there is no test for early detection of ovarian cancer and many cases are discovered only after the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage, as many symptoms, such as bloating, abdominal or pelvic pain and trouble eating, are similar to those of everyday ailments. While the first defense against ovarian cancer is being aware of the symptoms, AstraZeneca has a new option to aid women with BRCA mutated (as detected by an FDA- approved test) advanced ovarian cancer who have had three or more rounds of chemotherapy fight against this disease.

Lynparza_Logo_Bigger_GenericThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved LYNPARZA™ (olaparib) capsules as a new treatment option. It is intended for use as monotherapy, meaning it can be used without any other concurrent treatment, in women living with advanced ovarian cancer described as deleterious or suspected deleterious germline BRCA mutated (as detected by an FDA-approved test) ovarian cancer, who have been treated with three or more prior lines (3L+) of chemotherapy. The indication is approved under accelerated approval based on objective response rates and duration of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials. The most common side effects are  anemia, nausea or vomiting, tiredness or weakness, diarrhea, indigestion or heartburn, headache, loss of appetite, changes in how food tastes, changes in kidney function blood tests, sore throat or runny nose, upper respiratory infection, cough, pain in the joints, muscles, and back, rash, and pain or discomfort in the stomach area. See below for Important Safety Information.

LYNPARZA is the first approved PARP inhibitor for patients with gBRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer.

BRCA testing is required to determine eligibility for treatment with LYNPARZA, and major guidelines recommend that all patients with ovarian cancer be considered for BRCA testing. The Society of Gynecologic Oncology recommends that all women with ovarian cancer get tested for a BRCA mutation, because the results may impact future treatment decisions.

The approval of LYNPARZA strengthens AstraZeneca’s existing and growing oncology portfolio and reflects our ongoing commitment to fulfilling unmet needs in the gynecologic cancer community. Talk to your doctor about your own risks, and the possible benefits of genetic testing for you and your family.

Important Safety Information  

There are no contraindications for LYNPARZA.

LYNPARZA may cause serious side effects that can lead to death including bone marrow problems and lung problems. Some people who have ovarian cancer or who have received previous treatment with chemotherapy or certain other medicines for their cancer have developed bone marrow problems called Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) or Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) during treatment with LYNPARZA. Symptoms of low blood cell counts are common during treatment with LYNPARZA, but can be a sign of serious bone marrow problems, including MDS or AML.

You will undergo blood tests before, and every month during, treatment with LYNPARZA to monitor your blood cell counts. Symptoms to discuss with your healthcare provider include weakness, weight loss, fever, frequent infections, blood in your urine/stool, shortness of breath, feeling very tired, and bruising or bleeding more easily.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new or worsening symptoms of lung problems, including shortness of breath, fever, cough, or wheezing.

Avoid pregnancy when taking LYNPARZA and tell your healthcare provider right away if you are, or think you have become, pregnant.

Avoid grapefruit, grapefruit juice and Seville oranges during treatment as they may increase the levels of LYNPARZA in your blood.

Click [here] for full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information (Medication Guide). 

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit  http://www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088

3064817 Last Updated 12/14

AZ Honors the Courage of Women Living with Ovarian Cancer

In recognition of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in September, AstraZeneca is empowering women with ovarian cancer to know the facts and make informed treatment decisions. The commonality of ovarian cancer symptoms, its potentially asymptomatic nature, and lack of a reliable screening method have contributed to why ovarian cancer has often been called a “silent killer.” Sadly, ovarian cancer still ranks fifth in cancer deaths among U.S. women and claims more deaths than any other female cancer of the reproductive system.

MyOCStory

AstraZeneca’s myOCjourney.com has launched during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in an effort to continue this important conversation around disease awareness.

In spite of these challenges, AstraZeneca believes every journey with ovarian cancer is unique. For this reason, AstraZeneca has launched myOCjourney.com to provide the support women in this community need to live their best life. The site provides key information, such as what to expect during the ovarian cancer journey, the importance of personalized care, and information about treatment centers and support groups. Recognizing the power of the support system, myOCjourney.com also provides useful resources for caregivers. AstraZeneca encourages the ovarian cancer community to share information from myOCjourney.com with others as a way to help raise continued disease awareness.

AstraZeneca remains committed to expanding on our more than 30-year history in oncology through continued gynecologic cancer research and believes that women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer need to stand together. There’s strength in numbers and with strength comes hope.