An Australian-led clinical trial has been able to identify a promising treatment for the most common type of ovarian cancer.

According to AAP report, the international trial tested whether a new medication known as olaparib could prevent the re-growth of ovarian cancer by extending remission after successful chemotherapy.

Melbourne based head of the ovarian cancer research laboratory at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Clare Scott, said the study could be an important breakthrough for treating ovarian cancer.

“This is the first time a PARP inhibitor treatment (olaparib) used as a maintenance therapy has shown a substantial benefit in delaying disease progression for patients with the most resistant type of ovarian cancer, high-grade serious ovarian cancer,” Scott said.

Unlike some other cancers, there is no reliable way to detect early stage ovarian cancer and recurrence is common, Scott said adding most ovarian cancer patients are treated with surgery to remove as much cancer as possible, followed by chemotherapy to kill the remaining cancer cells.

In four out of five patients, this chemotherapy will initially make the cancer shrink, but for many of these patients the response is brief, the cancer re-grows and cannot be effectively treated.

Scott said the trial found that patients who received olaparib stayed in remission after chemotherapy treatment for more than eight months on average, almost four months longer than for those who received an inactive placebo.

The trial was conducted at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Prince of Wales hospital in Sydney as well as Europe, Israel and the US.

Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer-related death in Australian women, causing more than 800 deaths annually.

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