HEALTH

Drug trial is helping Utah woman beat back ovarian cancer

Sep 21, 2022, 5:55 PM | Updated: 11:05 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — In the past, women with advanced ovarian cancer did not have a good chance of living five years past diagnosis.

Recent trials, however, show promise for a category of drugs that target the cancer cells.

They provide new hope for longer lives for women with ovarian cancer.

Doctors at Huntsman Cancer Institute have conducted trials for PARP inhibitors for several years which have been effective at keeping ovarian cancer in remission and extending patients’ lives.

That’s a big change for the patients and the doctors.

“If you look at the women who got the PARP inhibitor compared to those who didn’t, they are having more clinical benefit and living longer,” Dr. Theresa Werner, a medical oncologist and senior director of clinical research at HCI said.

She pointed out that ovarian cancer is not the most common cancer, but it is one of the most deadly.

There’s not a good screening test like there is for breast cancer and colon cancer, for example.

Werner said 75% of the cases present at a more advanced stage, which makes it harder to treat.

“The cure rate is lower the later someone presents,” Werner said.

PARP inhibitors, taken as a pill, are changing the lives of women with ovarian cancer who did not think they would live long.

“Taking that medicine after chemotherapy actually helps keep women in remission, and helps improve their survival,” the oncologist said.

Joanna Lynch was diagnosed with ovarian cancer nine years ago and had surgery and chemotherapy.

Her cancer came back not once, but twice. That’s when Dr. Werner put her on PARP inhibitors.

“That was five years ago,” Lynch said. “So, we hope that’s the way it is for the next 20.”

As a physician assistant herself, she knew those drugs were her best option. She said the drugs have helped her, even psychologically.

“I was able to sort of know I have it (cancer) but feel like I have some control over it because now I can take a medication that helps kill those cancer cells,” she said.

Without the drug, she said, she’s not so sure she would be here today.

“If you have to have a disease like this, it’s better to be at the point where you can benefit from everyone before you, and that you’re at that change window, versus ten years ago, or more, I don’t know that I would have had an option.”

Today, she lives a fun life, paddle boarding, fly fishing, painting, and traveling with her husband.

“I just do whatever I want,” Lynch said. “There’s nothing I can’t do.”

“It’s these patients who help us find these answers, and it benefits the next generation of people,” Dr. Werner said. “I think we’re changing the trajectory of ovarian cancer, which is exciting.”

The cancer could still come back but Lynch said she hopes she stays on the drug forever because she has her life back.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Health

The thousand-year-old manuscript has been returned to its home at the Kosinitza Monastery in Drama,...
Zoe Sottile, CNN

Stolen in 1917, this 1,000-year-old manuscript was just returned to its rightful owners

A 1,000-year-old manuscript looted during World War I has been returned to the Greek monastery from where it was stolen more than a century ago.
2 days ago
A dip in suicide rates in 2019 continued into 2020, but the CDC report, released on September 30, s...
Deidre McPhillips, CNN

US suicide rates rose in 2021, reversing two years of decline

A dip in suicide rates in 2019 continued into 2020, but a CDC report released on Sept. 30 shows that 2021 reversed most of that improvement and brought rates back to near-record levels.
3 days ago
Bry Hansen visits his son's grave in South Jordan. (Tanner Siegworth/KSL TV)...
Annie Knox and Daniella Rivera, KSL TV

The number of Utah kids and teens dying by gunfire hit a record high in 2020

The state hit a devastating milestone in 2020, recording the highest-ever number of shooting deaths among Utahns 18 and younger.
3 days ago
Harmoni Memmott went through seven months of chemotherapy at Primary Children's Hospital to beat a ...
Ayanna Likens

2-year-old beats cancer after receiving care at Primary Children’s Hospital

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and one 2-year-old in Tooele battled cancer and beat it after treatment at Primary Children's Hospital.
4 days ago
Woman chooses canned olives in the grocery store. (File photo)...
Brenda Goodman

FDA proposes updates to ‘healthy’ claim on food packages

The US Food and Drug Administration is proposing changes to the nutrition standards that foods must meet before they can carry the "healthy" label on their packages.
5 days ago
Gabriela Solis prepares a dose of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine at an L.A. County vaccination site ...
AMANDA SEITZ Associated Press

Vaccine appears to protect against monkeypox, CDC says

U.S. public health officials say at-risk people who have received just one dose of the monkeypox vaccine have appeared to be significantly less likely to get sick from the virus. Still, on Wednesday they urged a second dose for full protection. It's the first look public health officials have offered into how the Jynneos vaccine is working against the monkeypox outbreak. The virus is primarily spread among men who have sex with infected men.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
Drug trial is helping Utah woman beat back ovarian cancer