Frontline therapy of ovarian cancer: trials and tribulations

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Purpose of review

The current article reviews the advances and challenges in the fight with cancer and the hope for cure, with a focus on clinical trials, at the one time with the best outcomes; first-line therapy.

Recent findings

To date there have been four great stories that bridge inception to development of new drugs in ovarian cancer: Serendipitous insight into the role of platinum, discovery of taxanes, understanding the microenvironment and angiogenesis, and following the science in the development of Poly (ADP-Ribose) Polymerase (PARP) inhibitors. There is a fundamental difference between overall survival (OS), simply living longer; and eradicating disease, cure. The scientific underpinning of both our understanding and the recent developments encourages an optimistic view of the remaining hurdles.


There has been an unprecedented explosion in the number of new drugs approved for the treatment of ovarian cancer with three new classes of agent, and five new drugs receiving food and drug administration approval in the last 3 years (Fig. 2). Getting the right drug truly transforms patients’ experience with the seminal event being the development of imatinib in CML. In 1980, an average patient would have lived only 3 years, and now they only live 3 years less than a full lifespan [Bower et al. (2016). J Clin Oncol 34:2851].

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