YOUR HEALTH: PARP inhibitors, putting the brakes on ovarian cancer

Almost 20,000 women developed ovarian cancer this year, and experts projected 12,000 women will die from it.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:02 AM CST
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ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Almost 20,000 women developed ovarian cancer this year, and experts projected 12,000 women will die from it. For years, it’s been known as the silent killer because the symptoms are vague, and it’s often caught in late stages. Now, scientists are studying targeted therapies called PARP inhibitors on advanced ovarian cancers that were treated and have recurred.

Karen Ingalls and her husband Jim make the very best of every day. Fourteen years ago, this retired nurse got news that changed her life.

“My one and only symptom was a bloating stomach, which I just attributed to being 67, postmenopausal,” Ingalls tells Ivanhoe.

“But after a scan that showed a tumor about the size of a honeydew melon. When I woke up from surgery, he told me I had ovarian cancer and stage two C and was given a 50% chance to live five years,” Ingalls recalls.

Ingalls had chemo, but the cancer came back. She had chemo again, but when cancer came back the third time, doctors had something new.

Ingalls says, “Three months after my surgery, I started on a PARP inhibitor and was on that for four and a half years.”

PARP is a type of enzyme that helps repair DNA damage in cells. PARP inhibitors are drugs that work by preventing cancer cells from repairing, allowing the cancer to die. New research is evaluating PARP inhibitors in women with advanced ovarian cancer

UC San Francisco gynecologic oncologist, Dr. John Chan, MD, explains, “And in those patients, despite good surgery, adequate chemotherapy, 70, 80% of the time, these cancers still recur.”

While PARP inhibitors aren’t a cure for these women, researchers say for some, they extend the time between chemotherapy and recurrence. In some by months, and others by years.

“We’re seeing impacts in our advanced ovarian cancer patients that we’ve never seen before,” Dr. Chan adds.

“Ingalls’s cancer is not growing right now, and she’s lived eight years beyond the initial prediction that she would have just five. I figured out five years equaled 3.6 plus million seconds, moments,” she explains.

She spent those moments and now, more with Jim, and letting other women know as a speaker and author that there are options for ovarian cancer patients.

“I truly believe that that’s one of the things that has kept her alive and kept her going and kept her young,” Jim says about his wife.

There are currently three FDA-approved PARP inhibitors that doctors can prescribe for women with advanced ovarian cancer. It’s important to note that researcher Dr. John Chan is also a paid consultant with GlaxoSmithKline, a company that manufactures one of the PARP inhibitors. Karen Ingalls writes about her ovarian cancer journey on her website,

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