Majority of Women With Ovarian Cancer Feel Uncomfortable Raising Psychological Concerns
Ovarian Cancer is often called the silent disease because its signs and symptoms aren’t always present and obvious early on. For this reason, many women will learn of their diagnosis after the disease has passed stage 1.
This year, more than 22,000 women in the United States are estimated to receive a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. With any cancer type that has progressed, patients find themselves having to not only worry about treatment and physical side effects, but the psychological effects too.
A recent review of data found that 79 percent of patients with ovarian cancer felt uncomfortable raising psychological and emotional concerns during their consultations. The women were concerned with taking up too much time with their health care provider, which led to feelings of isolation, lack of support and a need for more information. Poor mental health was also seen in 80 percent of women.
The findings are part of the ‘Our Way Forward — Ovarian Cancer in Europe’ literature review of 65 publications and patient surveys from the past 15 years. It was created by Tesaro, Inc., with input from the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance (OCRFA). The goal of the program is to have patients, caregivers and health care providers rethink how they talk about advanced ovarian cancer and ways to partner together to navigate the physical and emotional challenges brought on by the disease.
Many women (85 percent) with ovarian cancer will have a recurrence, according to a study
published in the International Journal of Surgical Oncology
. However, findings of the current review showed that recurrence and fear of recurrence are poorly addressed. Some 53 percent of patients reported that symptoms of recurrence were never discussed with them. When asked, 63 percent of nurses reported that they don’t have the time to discuss symptoms.
In addition, 60 percent of women with recurrence felt they can do less than they wanted because of their emotional status compared with 16 percent of women without recurrence. Women with recurrence also had a more difficult time concentrating than women without (66 percent versus 26 percent).
The trade-off between efficacy and quality of life is another area of care that is not commonly addressed. But when it comes to improving quality of life, 86 percent of patients said they would be willing to try a drug even if it didn’t prolong survival, according to the review findings.
Tesaro and both advocacy groups have a second-phase review planned, which will focus on the development of resources and tools for women with ovarian cancer in need of psychological intervention.
Zejula (niraparib), an oral PARP inhibitor, was developed by Tesaro. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the maintenance treatment of adult patients with recurrent epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer who are in a complete or partial response to platinum-based chemotherapy. Varubi (rolapitant), an injectable drug approved to help prevent delayed nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, is also produced by Tesaro.