I’ve been on rucaparib tablets for 6 weeks now and it looks like they are working! My CA125 (cancer marker in the blood test) dropped from 167 to 78 in the first 2 weeks, then halved again by 2 weeks later. I was very happy to see my CA125 result at 36. (Remember 35 is the normal value for people without cancer.) Of course the proof will be in my scans next week. I’m hoping to see the tumours have shrunk.
There is good reason for my great response to rucaparib and that is my genetics. I found out my biopsy showed a BRCA1 mutation which means I am well suited to this drug. As far as we know, this mutation is the probable cause of my case of cancer. It is a malfunction in my cell repair process in certain tissues, and rucaparib addresses the problem. See below for more of an explanation.
That BRCA result was the best news for me, although it remains to be seen what other implications it might have for me and my family. Already I am advised to have more frequent mammograms. Up to now I really haven’t found time to worry about all the cancers that I haven’t got! Next year I will have further tests and genetic counselling to find out if I have inherited this mutation and whether I could have passed it on to my children. The best possible scenario would be that the mutation occurred in my lifetime and doesn’t indicate any increased cancer risk for my relatives.
Meanwhile I am learning to manage the side effects of the tablets, especially nausea, tiredness and nasty taste sensations. Now that Summer is here I’ve also had some lymphodoema in my ankle (after surgery in April). These symptoms are usually at a nuisance level and I’m told I can hope for them to ease over time.
Enough grumbling! It is a wonderful thing to have an effective treatment and even better that it’s in tablet form! I am one of the very lucky ones to have access to this treatment of the future by joining the clinical trial. 🙂
For those who are rusty on biology:
Cells are the building blocks of life and each one has a control centre which is the nucleus, containing chromosomes made up of intricately encoded DNA giving an individual’s blueprint. Eye colour, hair curl, and so many other inherited personal traits are determined by the DNA, as well as all the regular structures and processes for a properly functioning body. Damage to cells happens all the time and usually they automatically repair or clean up the problems. Permanent change to the DNA is a mutation. Cancer can result from mutations in the department responsible for cell repair. Then unwanted cells can accumulate forming a tumour.
BRCA 1 and 2 are the best understood mutations involved in cancer, mainly because breast cancer is so common and research has lept ahead about this disease and its treatment. There are numerous other mutations that can cause ovarian cancer and hopefully before long they will all be identified and a specific drug designed to help each case.