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Biological therapy for ovarian cancer

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This page tells you about biological therapy for ovarian cancer. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Biological therapies for ovarian cancer

Biological therapies are treatments that act on processes in cells or change the way that cells signal to each other. They can stimulate the body to attack or control the growth of cancer cells.

Olaparib (Lynparza) for advanced ovarian cancer

Olaparib is a type of biological therapy called a PARP-1 inhibitor. It is a treatment for women with advanced ovarian cancer or fallopian tube cancer that has changes (mutations) in the BRCA 1 or BRCA2 genes. It is a treatment for women who have already had 3 or more courses of chemotherapy. It can control or shrink the cancer for a time.

Bevacizumab (Avastin) for advanced ovarian cancer

A drug called bevacizumab (Avastin) can help some women with advanced ovarian cancer. You have it with chemotherapy and then on its own for a year. Although this treatment can’t cure the cancer, it may help to control it for a while. It may help women live a few months longer than chemotherapy alone.

This treatment hasn’t been approved by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) or the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for use in the NHS. NICE and the SMC feel that it doesn’t give enough benefit to justify the cost. In England, doctors may be able to access this drug through the Cancer Drugs Fund.
 

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What biological therapy is

Biological therapies are treatments that act on processes in cells or change the way that cells signal to each other. They can stimulate the body to attack or control the growth of cancer cells. They can help some women with advanced ovarian cancer that has come back after previous treatment.

Although these treatments can’t cure the cancer, they may help to control it for a while and help some people to live longer.

 

Olaparib (Lynparza) for advanced ovarian cancer

Olaparib is a type of biological therapy called a PARP-1 inhibitor. It is a treatment for women with advanced ovarian cancer or fallopian tube cancer that has changes (mutations) in the BRCA 1 or BRCA2 genes. You may have it after 3 or more courses of chemotherapy.

Find out about olaparib and its side effects.

 

Bevacizumab (Avastin) for ovarian cancer

Research trials looked at adding the biological therapy drug bevacizumab (Avastin) to standard chemotherapy for advanced ovarian cancer and then continuing bevacizumab after chemotherapy for a year.

The trials showed that bevacizumab used in this way can help to control advanced ovarian cancer for a few months longer than chemotherapy alone. It may help some women to live a few months longer.

But bevacizumab (Avastin) hasn’t been approved by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) or the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) as a treatment for ovarian cancer within the NHS. NICE and the SMC feel that it doesn’t give enough benefit to justify the cost.

In England, doctors may be able to access bevacizumab (Avastin) for their patients through the Cancer Drugs Fund.

Read detailed information about bevacizumab (Avastin) and its side effects.

 

Other biological therapies for advanced ovarian cancer

Researchers are looking at some other biological therapies in trials for advanced ovarian cancer. But we don’t yet know how well these treatments will work. All new treatments have to go through the clinical trials process and this takes some years.

Read about research into biological therapies for ovarian cancer on our ovarian cancer research page.

To search for ovarian cancer trials, visit our clinical trials database and choose 'ovarian' on the list of cancer types.

 

More information

You can ask your doctor or specialist nurse for written information about your treatment.

You could contact our cancer information nurses or call them from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, on freephone 0808 800 4040. They will be happy to help.

If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use Cancer Chat – our online forum.

Our ovarian cancer organisations page has details of organisations that can put you in touch with a cancer support group. Our ovarian cancer reading list has information about books, leaflets and CDs on ovarian cancer treatments.

On this website you can also read about

Biological therapy

Treatment for advanced ovarian cancer

Living with ovarian cancer

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Updated: 7 April 2016