This exciting new drug treatment could help to extend the lifespans of women suffering from one of the world’s worst cancer survival rates.

Ever after undergoing chemotherapy and surgery, 70% of ovarian cancer patients suffer relapses within three years of treatment – and only 35% are still alive ten years after their initial diagnosis. Once the cancer returns, it is considered terminal.

According to these “unprecedented” trial results, however, a new drug called olaparib has dramatically increased the lifespan and survival rates of ovarian cancer patients.

The drug was given to women who had successfully eliminated all or part of the cancer by undergoing chemotherapy. Three years after the women were started on the drug in 2013, researchers found that the drug was associated with a 70% reduction in mortality and cancer relapse, compared to only a third of patients in the placebo groups.

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More importantly, since the follow-up took place only three years after the drug’s prescription, the treatment could offer protection for even longer amounts of time.

“The most exciting finding is that more than half the patients on the olaparib arm have not relapsed with a minimum of three years of follow-up,” said Professor Charlie Gourley, director of ovarian cancer research at the University of Edinburgh, according to the Telegraph.

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“This is unprecedented and raises the possibility that a number of these patients may be cured, although longer follow-up of patients is required before we can definitively draw this conclusion.”

The study results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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