British scientists have announced that Olaparib, the first drug that targets precise genetic mutations in prostate cancer, has been shown to be effective in a “milestone” trial.
The study, at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, took place on 49 men with untreatable cancer.
Olaparib had low overall success, but slowed tumor growth in 88% of patients with specific DNA mutations.
Cancer Research UK said the trial was exciting.
Olaparib, the first marketed drug to tackle inherited cancer mutations, was licensed in 2014 for women with ovarian cancer who have faulty BRCA genes.
The future of cancer medicine is treating cancers by their mutated DNA rather than what part of the body they are in.
The breast cancer drug Herceptin is already used only in patients with specific mutations. Olaparib targets mutations that change the way DNA is repaired.
The trial results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed the drug worked in 14 out of 16 men with such mutations.
Levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), which is produced by tumors, was more than halved and there were also significant falls in the number of prostate cancer cells detected in the blood and in the size of secondary tumors.
Patients responded to the drug for between six months and nearly a year and a half.
Prostate cancer is the fifth most deadly type of cancer in men.
However, a larger clinical trial is needed before doctors can say if the drug extends life expectancy.
Angelina Jolie has had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as a preventative measure against cancer.
Writing in the New York Times, Angelina Jolie said she chose to have the surgery as she carries a gene that gave her a 50% risk of developing ovarian cancer.
In 2013, Angelina Jolie, whose mother died from cancer, had a double mastectomy.
“It is not easy to make these decisions,” she said.
“But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue.”
In the article, titled Angelina Jolie Pitt: Diary of a Surgery, the 39-year-old actress wrote about the procedure, saying: “It is a less complex surgery than the mastectomy, but its effects are more severe. It puts a woman into forced menopause.”
Angelina Jolie, who is also a director and UN envoy, will now take hormone replacements.
She elected to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed after a check-up which put her in the clear from showing the early stages of ovarian cancer, but showed she still at risk of developing the disease which also killed her grandmother and aunt.
“My doctors indicated I should have preventive surgery about a decade before the earliest onset of cancer in my female relatives,” wrote Angelina Jolie.
“My mother’s ovarian cancer was diagnosed when she was 49. I’m 39.”
Angelina Jolie, who is married to Brad Pitt, has six children, three of whom are adopted.
“Regardless of the hormone replacements I’m taking, I am now in menopause. I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes.
“But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared.”
Angelina Jolie added: “It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer. I will look for natural ways to strengthen my immune system. I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family.
“I know my children will never have to say: <<Mom died of ovarian cancer>>.”
Scientists have developed a new test that can help doctors identify ovarian cancer more accurately and cut down on instances of unnecessary surgery.
The new test is designed to help diagnose different types and stages of ovarian cancer.
Scientists from Belgium and the UK said many women with cancer were not getting the right treatment.
The test is designed to distinguish accurately between benign cysts and malignant tumors as well as identify how aggressive tumors are.
It was developed by University of Leuven and Imperial College London scientists to help the patient get the right surgical treatment.
The new test is designed to help diagnose different types and stages of ovarian cancer
The test uses a combination of patient information, blood test results and ultrasound scans to predict the malignancy, type and stage of the cancer.
The researchers used data from 3,506 patients in 10 European countries between 1999 and 2007 to develop the test.
The research team, reporting their findings in the BMJ, then trialed the test with a further 2,403 patients between 2009 and 2012.
Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose early, because symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain can be put down to other common illnesses.
It is the most aggressive gynecological cancer, with only about 40% of patients still alive five years after being diagnosed, according to the research paper.
One of the main factors in survival is how early the cancer is diagnosed. There is currently no screening available, so patients have to rely on seeing a doctor and being correctly diagnosed in time.
Another important factor in the survival rate is whether surgery is carried out by a specialist surgeon, the researchers said.
Many women were currently operated on by general surgeons, possibly because the true nature of the illness came to light only during surgery.
If women were diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer they had a 90% chance of surviving the next five years, but if the cancer was found at a later stage, the five-year survival rate reduced to 22%.
According to researchers in the US, a new way of screening for ovarian cancer is showing “potential”.
Tumors in the ovaries are hard to detect in the earliest stages meaning it can be too late to treat them effectively by the time they are found.
A trial of 4,051 women, reported in the journal Cancer, showed the method could identify those needing treatment.
But a huge study taking place in the UK will give a final verdict on the test when it is completed in 2015.
There is a survival rate of up to 90% when ovarian cancer is caught early, compared with less than 30% if it is discovered in the later stages.
Unlike other cancers, the symptoms, such as pelvic and abdominal pain or persistent bloating, are often put down to other common ailments and the tumor can be missed.
There is no mass screening programme to detect the cancer either.
A new way of screening for ovarian cancer is showing potential
Scientists already know that levels of a protein in the blood, called CA125, are often higher with ovarian cancer.
However, it is too unreliable on its own. It misses some patients and tells others they have the cancer when they are actually healthy.
Researchers are now testing the idea of using the blood test to sort patients in risk groups based on levels of CA125. Instead of going straight for surgery, low-risk patients are tested again in a year, medium-risk ones after three months and high-risk patients have an ultrasound scan to hunt for tumors.
The US study, at the University of Texas, followed post-menopausal women for 11 years on average.
Ten women had surgery based on their ultrasound scan and all the cancers detected were at an early stage.
Researcher Dr. Karen Lu said: “Clinical practice definitely should not change from our study, but it gives us an insight – we didn’t get a lot of false positives.”
She said the UK study of 50,000 people would give definitive results: “There are two big questions – do we see cancers at an earlier stage and do we decrease the number of deaths.”
Angelina Jolie will play her own mother in a biopic of the late actress Marcheline Bertrand, who died from ovarian cancer in 2007.
Angelina Jolie, 37, who last week revealed she had undergone a voluntary double mastectomy, will star in the film produced by Plan B, the production company set up by devoted partner Brad Pitt.
Like her daughter, Marcheline Bertrand devoted herself to humanitarian causes, including helping women Afghan refugees and launching the Give Love Give Life organization to help fight gynaecological cancers.
When Marcheline Bertrand died from ovarian cancer aged just 56, it came as a huge loss to the talented actress, who has much in common with her mother.
But just a few years later, those similarities took on a more sinister tone when Angelina discovered she had inherited the faulty BRCA1 gene.
Doctors told the mother-of-six that she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer and a 50% chance of ovarian cancer as a result of the gene.
Angelina Jolie then elected to undergo a double mastectomy, a decision Brad Pitt described as “heroic”.
He said: “Having witnessed this decision first hand, I find Angie’s choice, as well as so many others like her, absolutely heroic.
“I thank our medical team for their care and focus.
“All I want for is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children.
“This is a happy day for our family.”
Angelina Jolie will play her own mother in a biopic of the late actress Marcheline Bertrand, who died from ovarian cancer in 2007
Angelina Jolie has announced she also now plans to have a hysterectomy and oophorectomy, where the ovaries are removed to further decrease her chances of developing cancer.
She said: “I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer was higher than my risk of ovarian cancer and the surgery is much more complex.”
The procedure would rule out any further children for her and 49-year-old Brad Pitt. They already have three biological children: daughter Shiloh and four-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne.
They are also parents to their adopted children Maddox, 11, Pax, 9 and 8-year-old Zahara.
Marcheline Bertrand, who was raised in Illinois by a French-Canadian father, married Midnight Cowboy star Jon Voight when she was a 21-year-old actress.
After the births of son James in 1973 and Angelina in 1975, she quit her acting career.
However, she and Jon Voight split in 1976 due to his infidelity.
Angelina Jolie grew up to be a wild teenager, and her mother was no disciplinarian, permitting the 14-year-old Angelina to bring her boyfriend to live in their home.
Marcheline Bertrand was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1999, the same year as Angelina Jolie’s Hollywood breakthrough in the film Girl, Interrupted.
Marcheline Bertrand’s final wishes were said to be that Angelina Jolie would marry Brad Pitt, and she chose the name Pax, which Angelina gave to the Cambodian boy she adopted six weeks after her mother’s death.
Marcheline Bertrand is also remembered in the middle name of her granddaughter Vivienne.
Writing in the New York Times last week, Angelina Jolie paid an emotional tribute to her mother.
She wrote: “My mother fought cancer and died at 56.
“She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms.
“But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.”
Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie’s father, revealed he learned about her preventive double mastectomy on the internet along with the rest of the world.
Jon Voight, 74, who reconciled with Angelina Jolie after a 10 year feud in 2011 praised his “extraordinary” daughter but was understandably surprised – especially as he had seen Angelina just one day before her announcement in the New York Times.
“My love and admiration for my daughter can’t be explained in words,” the actor told the New York Daily News.
“I saw her two days ago with my son Jamie. We all got together for his birthday, with her and Brad [Pitt]. But I didn’t know. It wasn’t obvious at all.
“I found out [Tuesday] morning. I was as surprised as anyone and deeply moved by the way she’s handled this. She’s a very extraordinary person, the way she examined it and what she shared.”
Angelina Jolie made the decision to have the surgery after learning she is a carrier of the BRCA1 gene and had an 87% chance of contracting breast cancer and a 50% risk of getting ovarian cancer.
She continued working throughout three months of procedures and kept them a secret from everyone other than her fiancé Brad Pitt, who was seen leaving a Hollywood studio on Tuesday, and their six children.
Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie’s father, revealed he learned about her preventive double mastectomy on the internet along with the rest of the world
Jon Voight says he “absolutely” respects Angelina Jolie’s choice to keep her decision from him for that time.
“I completely understand,” the actor explained.
“I want the focus to be on the inspiration.”
Jon Voight revealed he spoke to Angelina Jolie on Tuesday and she talked him through what it all means.
“She just explained to me and educated me on this stuff,” he said.
Jon Voight fell out with Angelina Jolie in 2002 when he accused her of having “serious mental problems”, while Angelina criticized him for having an affair behind her mother’s back.
It was Angelina Jolie’s fiancé Brad Pitt who eventually engineered their reconciliation and acted as a go-between.
Speaking in October 2011 Jon Voight claimed he’d had an emotional epiphany and that he began living for his family after everything changed “in a moment”.
“I suddenly saw things differently and everything shifted. That one moment changed my whole life,” he said.
“It gave me back my daughter and my family. Being reunited with my Angie is very precious to me. I adore my grandchildren, they are my great love. It makes me so emotional and grateful.”
Angelina Jolie has revealed she has had a preventative double mastectomy after doctors estimated she had an 87% chance of contracting breast cancer.
Angelina Jolie, 37, made the decision to undergo the procedure after learning that she is a carrier of the BRCA1 cancer gene.
Her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, died at the age of 56 from ovarian cancer, which Angelina Jolie revealed she has a 50% chance of contracting.
Writing in an editorial piece in the New York Times, Angelina Jolie said: “My doctors estimated that I had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.
“Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65% risk of getting it, on average.
“Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.
“I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.
“On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.”
Angelina Jolie’s surgery was successful and doctors say her chances of developing breast cancer have now lowered to less than 5%.
“I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy,” she wrote.
“But it is one I am very happy that I made.
“My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”
Angelina Jolie has preventative double mastectomy as she had an 87 percent chance of contracting breast cancer
Angelina Jolie praised the support her fiancé Brad Pitt and their children, Maddox, 11, Pax, 9, Zahara, 8, Shiloh, 6, and 4-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne, gave her during treatment.
“It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can.
“I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries.
“We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.”
Angelina Jolie assured that having the double mastectomy hasn’t changed the way she feels about herself and her womanliness, and added that results of reconstructive surgery “can be beautiful”.
“On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman,” she said.
“I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
In addition, Angelina Jolie hopes that she can encourage other women to be informed and consider their options.
“I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness.
“But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.”
Angelina Jolie added: “For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.
“I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be will able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.
“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of. “ February 2nd – Angelina Jolie begins three months of treatments prior to undergoing a preventative double mastectomy, starting with a “nipple delay, which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area”.
February 16th – The actress undergoes the major surgery – an 8-hour operation which sees the breast tissue removed before temporary fillers are put in place.
April 4th – Angelina Jolie attends the Women in the World Summit in New York looking in good spirits.
April 11th – Angelina Jolie is pictured with William Hague at the G8 Summit in London.
April 20th – Angelina Jolie has her breasts reconstructed with implants
April 27th – The mother-of-six completes the medical process. She is told that the surgery was a success and her chances of contracting breast cancer have now been reduced from 87% to less than 5%
May 14th – Angelina Jolie reveals her decision in an editorial piece published in the New York Times newspaper.
WHAT IS PREVENTATIVE MASTECTOMY?
Preventive mastectomy is the surgical removal of one or both breasts. It is done to prevent or reduce the risk of breast cancer in women who are at high risk of developing the disease.
In a total mastectomy, doctors remove the entire breast and nipple, while in a subcutaneous mastectomy, the doctor removes the breast tissue but leaves the nipple intact.
Existing data suggests that the treatment may significantly reduce the chances of developing tumors by about 90%.
Many choose to have breast reconstruction to restore the shape of the breast following surgery.
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