Ovarian Cancer Breakthroughs

Let’s talk about immunotherapy for ovarian cancer. Is it the next big advancement, or a bunch of hype? How can you know if immunotherapy can be an option for you? This article written by our experts explains the current situation and future of treatment options for this potentially deadly disease.

The Ovarian cancer breakthroughs with the help of immunotherapy

Are there any immunotherapies approved for ovarian cancer?

As of September 2021, only pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is approved for a small group of advanced ovarian cancer patients who have high levels of MSI or changes in the MMR genes whose cancer starts growing after chemotherapy or other drug treatments. Read all that there’s to know about Keytruda at Ankr’s patient portal.

What research is being done on immunotherapy for ovarian cancer?

Many types of immunotherapies are available or being studied to treat cancer, including:

Checkpoint Inhibitors

These therapies block proteins on immune cells called “checkpoints,” which hinder the immune system’s ability to “see” and attack cancer. When the checkpoints are turned off, your immune system can better recognize and kill cancer cells. Examples include nivolumab (Opdivo), pembrolizumab (Keytruda), avelumab (Bavencio), and ipilimumab (Yervoy).

Checkpoint inhibitors are approved for use in several cancer types. See my.ankr.us for details.

Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T Cell Therapy

With CAR-T cell therapy, special T cells (a type of white blood cell) are removed from your body and modified in a lab. The enhanced cells are then placed back in your body, so they can find, attach to, and kill cancer cells.


This therapy uses cytokines (small proteins that carry messages between cells) to rouse the immune cells to attack cancer. It has been used for decades for melanoma and kidney cancer, but a number of new drugs in this category are now being researched for other cancers.


They work by boosting parts of the immune system. Bevacizumab (Avastin) is a prime example of this category of drugs that’s already in use in ovarian cancer.

Cancer Vaccines

Cancer vaccines teach T cells to respond to certain tumor antigens (substances that cause an immune response).

Oncolytic Viruses

With this treatment, doctors give patients modified viruses to infect and kill cancer cells.

How to Find a Clinical Trial?

If you’re interested in immunotherapy, joining a clinical trial might be a good option. These studies may give you the opportunity to receive treatments that aren’t available otherwise.

Many trials testing immunotherapy for are being conducted around the country. You can search for different studies in your area at clinicaltrials.gov.

Interested in learning more? Here are some basics about ovarian cancer that you should absolutely know!

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that forms within the ovaries. The cells multiply quickly and may invade and destroy healthy body tissue. The female genital system contains two ovaries, one on all sides of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the dimensions of an almond — produce eggs (ova) also because of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Treatment usually involves surgery and chemotherapy.

How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?

Ovarian cancer often progresses significantly before a patient is diagnosed. This is because the symptoms can be easily confused with less life-threatening digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, and gas.

Roughly only 20 percent are detected before it spreads beyond the ovaries. Unfortunately, to date, no screening tests have been demonstrated to improve early detection and outcomes of people with this disease..

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include
  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • Weight loss
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
  • A frequent need to urinate
Risk factors

Factors that will increase your risk include:

Older age. Risk increases as you age and it is most frequently diagnosed in adults over 60 years of age.

Inherited gene changes. A smaller percentage of cases are caused by genes changes inherited from your parents. Some of the genes that increase the danger of ovarian cancer include BRCA1 and BRCA2, p53, MSI (Lynch syndrome), BRIP1, RAD51C, and RAD51D.. These genes also increase the danger of other cancers.

Family history of ovarian cancer. If you’ve got blood relatives who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you’ll have an increased risk of the disease.

Being overweight or obese.

Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy. Taking this treatment to regulate menopause signs and symptoms may increase the likelihood of developing this cancer.

Endometriosis. Endometriosis is an often painful disorder during which tissue almost like the tissue that lines the within of your uterus grows outside your uterus.

Age when menstruation started and ended. Beginning menstruation at an early age or starting menopause at a later age, or both may increase the danger of ovarian cancer.

Never having been pregnant. If you’ve never been pregnant, you’ll have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

All You Need to Know About Bladder Cancer

Know All You Need to Know About Bladder Cancer

What Is Bladder Cancer?

Bladder Cancer is it starts when cells that form the structure of the bladder start to grow out of control. As more cancer cells develop, they will form a tumor and, with time, spread to other parts of the body.

bladder anatomy

The bladder is a hollow organ within the lower pelvis. It’s flexible, muscular walls that will stretch to carry urine and squeeze to send it out of the body. The bladder’s main job is to store urine. Urine is liquid waste made by the two kidneys then carried to the bladder through 2 tubes called ureters. Once you urinate, the muscles within the bladder contract and urine are forced out of the bladder through a tube called the urethra.

What are Bladder Cancer Risk Factors?

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease like cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. you’ll change some risk factors, like smoking or weight; others, like your age or case history, you can’t.

But having a risk factor, or maybe many doesn’t mean that you simply will get the disease. many of us with risk factors never get bladder cancer, while others with this disease may have few or no known risk factors.

Still, it’s important to understand the danger factors for bladder cancer because there could also be belongings you can do this might lower your risk of getting it. If you’re at higher risk due to certain factors, you would possibly be helped by tests that would find it early, when treatment is presumably to be effective.

Many risk factors make an individual more likely to develop bladder cancer.


Smokers have a 3 times higher risk of getting bladder cancer compared with non-smokers. So, if you smoke cigarettes/cigars/marijuana, the biggest action you can take to decrease your cancer risk is quit smoking. Smoking causes about half of all bladder cancers in both men and ladies.

Workplace exposures

Several industrial chemicals are linked with bladder cancer. Chemicals called aromatic amines, like benzidine and beta-naphthylamine, which are sometimes utilized in the dye industry, can cause bladder cancer.

Workers in other industries that use certain organic chemicals also may have a better risk of bladder cancer. Industries carrying higher risks include makers of rubber, leather, textiles, and paint products also as printing companies. Other workers with an increased risk of developing bladder cancer include painters, machinists, printers, hairdressers (probably due to heavy exposure to hair dyes), and truck drivers (likely due to exposure to diesel fumes).

Cigarette smoking and workplace exposures can act together to cause bladder cancer. So, people that smoke who also work with cancer-causing chemicals have an especially high risk of bladder cancer.

Certain medicines or herbal supplements

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the use of the diabetes medicine pioglitazone (Actos®) is linked with an increased risk of bladder cancer. The danger seems to be higher when higher doses are used.

Dietary supplements containing aristolochic acid (mainly in herbs from the Aristolochia family) are linked with an increased risk of urothelial cancers, including bladder cancer.

Arsenic in beverage

Arsenic in beverages can the increase risk of bladder cancer. Because contaminated water is the most likely source of arsenic exposure, your risk of arsenic-related bladder cancer depends on your water source.

Not drinking enough fluids

People who drink tons of fluids, especially water, every day tend to possess lower rates. This could be because they empty their bladders more often, which could keep chemicals from lingering in their bladder.

Chemotherapy or radiation therapy

Taking the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®) for a long time can irritate the bladder and increase the risk of bladder cancer. If you are taking this drug, make sure to drink plenty of fluids to help protect the bladder from irritation.

Your risk of developing bladder cancer is also higher if you have ever received radiation to the pelvis.

Who treats bladder cancer?

Based on your treatment options, you would possibly have different types of doctors on your treatment team. These doctors could include:

Urologists: surgeons who concentrate on treating diseases of the urogenital system and male genital system
Radiation oncologists: doctors who treat cancer with radiotherapy
Medical oncologists: doctors who treat cancer with medicines like chemotherapy and immunotherapy
You might have many other specialists on your treatment team also, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers, and other health professionals.

How can Ankr help?

Ankr is a cancer education and navigation platform developed by a team of cancer experts and patients. Ankr helps you learn about treatment options for bladder cancer, and how can pancreatic cancer be cured, and helps you navigate through your chemotherapies and other treatments. By using Ankr, you can prevent and manage side effects and avoid an ER visit!

Get started now by signing up on the myAnkr website or by downloading the Ankr – Cancer Companion app on your phone.

Pancreatic cancer – Warning Signs & Risk Factors

Pancreatic cancer – 4 Warning Signs and 7 Risk Factors You Need to Know

What is Pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer begins within the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in your abdomen that lies behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas releases enzymes that aid digestion and produce hormones that help manage your blood glucose.

Several sorts of growths can occur within the pancreas, including cancerous and noncancerous tumors. The foremost common sort of cancer that forms within the pancreas begins within the cells that line the ducts that carry digestive enzymes out of the pancreas (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma).

Pancreatic cancer is seldom detected at its early stages when it’s most curable. this is often because it often doesn’t cause symptoms until after it’s spread to other organs.

The cancer stage at diagnosis, which refers to extent of cancer within the body, determines treatment options and features a strong influence on the length of survival. Generally, if the cancer is found only within the part of the body where it started, it is localized (sometimes mentioned as stage 1 or 2). If it’s spread to a different part of the body, the stage is regional or distant. The earlier a pancreas cancer is caught, the higher chance an individual has of surviving five years after being diagnosed.

Pancreatic cancer treatment options are chosen based on the extent of cancer. Options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or a mixture of those.

4 Warning Signs of Pancreatic Cancer are

Weight loss – Within one year of diagnosis, 73.5% of pancreatic cancer patients lost at least 5% of body weight according to one study. A number of factors may cause weight loss in people with pancreatic cancer. Weight loss might happen as cancer consumes the body’s energy. Nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatments or a tumor pressing on your stomach may make it difficult to eat. Or your body may have difficulty processing nutrients from food because your pancreas isn’t making enough digestive juices.

Loss of Appetite – This can happen due to inflammation caused by cancer itself, or blockage of organs like the bile duct, stomach, or small bowel due to cancer growth.

Jaundice – Most people with pancreatic cancer (and nearly all people with ampullary cancer) will have jaundice as one of their first symptoms. Jaundice is caused by the buildup of bilirubin, a dark yellow-brown substance made in the liver. 

Nausea – Nausea, and vomiting in patients with pancreatic carcinoma may be at least partially due to malabsorption and abnormal gastrointestinal motility. The use of anti-nausea medications and pancreatic enzymes may relieve symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of carcinoma often don’t occur until the disease is advanced. Some other warning signs include:

  • Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
  • Light-colored stools
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itchy skin
  • New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that’s becoming harder to regulate
  • Blood clots
  • Fatigue

7 Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer are

Age – The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. 70% of patients diagnosed with this cancer are older than 65 years. Other risk factors, especially any family history of inherited cancer syndrome, can cause cancer to occur at a younger age.

Smoking – Smoking may cause about 20-30 percent of all exocrine pancreatic cancer cases. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Most people who develop pancreatic cancer are older than 45. In fact, 90% are older than 55 and 70% are older than 65. However, adults of any age can be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Obesity – Obese people have a 20% increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer according to multiple studies. Losing weight can help decrease your risk if this applies to you.

Family history – Risk increases if multiple first-degree relatives had the disease or if any were diagnosed under 50.

Diet – A diet high in red and processed meats may increase risk and one high in fruits and vegetables may decrease risk. Once diagnosed, patients typically do best with healthy fats (such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds), and should avoid greasy, fried, and heavy foods.

Diabetes – Long-standing (over 5 years) diabetes increases risk and up to 80% of pancreatic cancer patients present with either new-onset type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.

Gender -Slightly more men are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than women. This may be due, at least in part, to higher tobacco use in men, which raises pancreatic cancer risk.

How can Ankr help?

Ankr is a cancer education and navigation platform developed by a team of cancer experts and patients. Ankr helps you learn about treatment options for pancreatic cancer, how can pancreatic cancer be cured, and helps you navigate through your chemotherapies and other treatments. By using Ankr, you can prevent and manage side effects and avoid an ER visit!

Get started now by signing up on the myAnkr website or by downloading the Ankr – Cancer Companion app on your phone.