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ovarian cancer

A pilot study has found encouraging results regarding ovarian cancer, namely, that a personalised vaccine for this particular type of cancer can nearly double the two-year survival rate.

This personalised vaccine reprogrammed the immune cells of the cancer patients so that they recognised the women's tumours and could thus combat cancerous cells.

The study involved 25 women and was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

78 percent of the women given the vaccine, along with immunology drugs, have survived for two years. Only 44 percent of women survived for two years when they were just given immunology drugs.

In order to make the vaccine, immune cells from the patient's blood were exposed to cells from the woman's tumour in order to train them to identify and then initiate an attack against cancerous cells.

The senior author of the study, Dr. Lana Kandalaft, told the Telegraph, “The patients who received the vaccine mounted an immune response against their own tumours.”

As well, the more anti-cancerous cells the patients' bodies produced after the vaccine, the longer the women survived.

Dr. Kandalaft explained: “Ovarian cancer is a silent killer which when diagnosed is usually in its advanced stage.

“A combination of chemotherapy and surgery is usually the standard of care in the primary setting, but 85 percent of patients recur and are left with few other curative options.

“It was demonstrated that about 55 percent of ovarian cancer patients have a spontaneous immune response, and this response actually correlates with better overall survival in these patients.”

After one year, all of the women who received the vaccine were still alive. Only 60 percent of the women who just received the immunology drugs were still alive at one year.

Dr. Kandalaft said that rolling out these personalised vaccines should be fairly straightforward, as the immunology drugs used alongside them are commonly used to treat ovarian cancer.

"We aren't giving patients any completely new drugs in combination with this personalised vaccine," she said.

"Bevacizumab and cyclophosphamide are routinely used to treat recurrent ovarian cancer. All we did was add the vaccine. This means that we should be able to easily integrate this personalised immunotherapy into the current standard of care for recurrent ovarian cancer."

This pilot study's results are welcome news, considering that ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer among British women. More than 7,400 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year.


Ovarian cancer effects hundreds of Irish women every year.

However, many of these cases are not diagnosed until the later stages of the disease. 

This is largely due to the fact that symptoms usually take a long time to appear, and when they do they are often mistaken for other illnesses. 

According to a new study, there’s now a way to accurately detect the disease in the early stages.

Research has revealed that regular blood tests could be the key. 

Doctors and researchers monitored a group of ‘high-risk’ women (carriers of the ovarian cancer gene) over a ten year period and noted that cancerous tumours were detected much earlier when the women underwent blood tests three times a year.

Although this is a promising development when it comes to the early detection of ovarian cancer, it must be stressed that the study would need to be extended over the next few years in order to accurately determine how many lives could be saved.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include, bloated feeling, persistent swollen abdomen, pain or dragging sensation in your lower abdomen or side and vague indigestion or nausea, among others. 

At the moment there is no national screening programme in Ireland and women who feel they may be at risk are advised to visit their GP.

And remember, smear tests will not pick up the signs of ovarian cancer. 


Did you know that almost half the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year are under the age of 65?

Many of us consider medical check-ups and smear tests as a problem for ‘future me’ to deal with, but with over 315 Irish women diagnosed with the disease every year, it's high-time we started to take notice of our health. 

And one 16-year-old model is urging young women to do just that. 


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Peyton Linafelter began experiencing some unusual symptoms shortly after signing her modelling contract.

Speaking to Fox News she explained: ‘‘I couldn’t keep anything down.’’

‘‘My stomach was a little expanded. But I just thought I was eating a lot of carbs. I didn’t think anything of it… but each week my stomach got bigger and bigger. My lower back hurt a lot and my abdomen was in pain’’ she added.


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Peyton went to get herself checked out and on her 16th birthday she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.

‘‘I was in disbelief. I had thought they were in the wrong room or it was a mistake.’’

She immediately began chemotherapy as part of her treatment, and admitted that losing her hair was one of the most devastating parts.

Thankfully, after surgery and treatment, Peyton caught the disease on time.

She has now teamed up with UCHealth for a cancer awareness campaign, and is encouraging young women to go to their doctors if they notice anything unusual, no matter how trivial they think it may be.



All women, everywhere are in possession of one – but it seems that a lot of us actually struggle when it comes to saying the word: 'vagina'.

In contrast to male genitalia, of which there are numerous throwaway phrases, women also feel uncomfortable coming up with an 'acceptable' reference for their sex organs.

Even the word 'penis,' somehow seems far more ordinary and everyday. 

According to a survey of 1,000 women and released this week by Ovarian Cancer Action, two-thirds of those aged 18 to 24 would be too embarrassed to even use the word vagina at their doctor’s office.

Which is in contrast to older ladies over the age of 65: just one in ten in that age bracket reported the same thing.

More than half of younger women – 57 percent – would also rather just Google their symptoms than visit their GP to talk about vaginas and vulvas.

Ovarian Cancer Action, a British charity, did the survey to encourage younger women to speak up about their gynecological health. 

In Ireland, ovarian cancer is the fourth most common strain affecting women: more than 300 new cases are diagnosed annually.

Although relatively rare, some of us carry a genetic mutation that makes us more susceptible to developing the disease.

Angelina Jolie earlier this year revealed that she had undergone preventative surgery – having her ovaries and breasts removed – because she was a high-risk candidate. 


Kelly Osbourne has revealed she may also elect to get preventative surgery at some stage, as she has a high risk factor for cancer like Angelina Jolie.

Speaking during a segment on The Talk yesterday about Angelina's decision to have invasive surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes to reduce her risk of ovarian cancer, Kelly said she had also been tested for the "cancer gene" and knows she will eventually have to take preventative measures.

Kelly's mum Sharon had a double mastectomy in 2012 after discovering she had a harmful mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene which placed her at greatly increased risk of breast cancer. At she time she insisted her daughters also get tested, which is when Kelly found out she too was at high risk.

"I actually do have the cancer gene,” the 30-year-old said on the show. “My mom made all of us get tested after she found out that she had it and got her double mastectomy.”

Kelly said she agreed "100 per cent" with Angelina's decision to undergo preventative surgery, first with a double mastectomy in 2013 and now with a second surgery. 

"I know that one day I will eventually have to do it too because if I have children, I want to be there to bring them up. I want to be there to support them in every way I can," Kelly explained. 

"It’s something I applaud Angelina for because she’s bringing attention to this,” she added. "People are now going to go out and get tested for it.” 

We're delighted to see this sensitive issue being discussed so openly.


Weddings are often emotional events, but Lorraine Whyman's wedding to the love of her life was made all the more heart-breaking by the fact that she may have just two years left to live.

Lorraine, who lives in Manchester but is originally from Ireland, was diagnosed with breast cancer last May. Despite months of chemotherapy and surgeries, the cancer tragically spread to her brain, and doctors have warned her that her time is limited.

But the 33-year-old says that wasn't the reason her and boyfriend Jon Callahan wanted to tie the knot. "I wouldn’t want anyone to think we’d got married just because I was ill or because my lifespan has an expectancy," she told a local paper. 

"If there was a cure tomorrow we’d still be married 60 years from now – that’s why we did it… I wanted everyone to know this is the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with."

The couple got married in Devon before flying to Ireland for a party with Lorraine's extended family. "There was no mention of anyone being ill, it was a normal wedding and that’s what we wanted," said the new bride. “We just wanted to be married and face whatever comes next together.”

Having experienced her own mum's death from ovarian cancer, and watched her aunt battle and survive breast cancer, Lorraine knows just how cruel the disease can be.

"I know what’s going to happen, I’ve seen it happen. But we just have to enjoy whatever time we have left," she said.