Ovarian Cancer Prevention

BC became the first jurisdiction in the world to launch an educational and prevention strategy with the goal of reducing the incidence of ovarian cancer in the province of BC by 40%.

Each year, an estimated 3000 Canadian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 1900 of them will die from the effects of this disease. Ovarian cancer, of all gynecologic cancers, claims more lives largely because there is no screening test and over 70% of women are diagnosed at advanced stages. Ovarian Cancer research presents an opportunity to change the metrics on the outcomes of this disease. Investment in ovarian cancer research lags well behind that of other cancers, many of which have a much lower 5-year mortality rate.

OVCARE was born in the VGH cafeteria just before Christmas 2000 and literally started on the back of a napkin. Dr. David Huntsman, Dr. Dianne Miller and Dr. Blake Gilks sat down to discuss an ovarian cancer research program and together, they shared a vision for a program that would be clinically relevant to patients, not in the distant future, but immediately. The vision was to have a multidisciplinary team that would include everyone from researchers to pathologists, geneticists, epidemiologists, gynecologic surgeons, and span multiple institutions – this part was essential. The BC Cancer Agency has the greatest archive of clinical ovarian cancer data in North America, and the Vancouver General Hospital, where most surgical procedures take place, has the largest archive of tumour material. The three realized that if a team that combined both institutions would be able to make unique contributions to our understanding of ovarian cancer.

The goal was to advance basic and clinical research that could immediately be translated to the front lines on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer. Today, this diverse, dynamic team, with a shared vision, is recognized as in the top 3 ovarian cancer research groups globally, measured in terms of research and clinical impact. The research from this group has changed worldwide healthcare guidelines and practice impacting the care and treatment of women with ovarian cancer.

• OVCARE proved that ovarian cancer is not a single disease, but multiple distinct disease types and then developed and promulgated today’s subtype specific care and research strategy.

• The OVCARE team identified the key mutations in several types of ovarian and gynecologic cancers which have led to improved diagnostics and international efforts to develop new treatments.

• BC became the first jurisdiction in the world to launch an educational and prevention strategy promoting opportunistic salpingectomy (the removal of fallopian tubes at the time of a hysterectomy or tubal ligation) and pervasive genetic screening (any patient diagnosed with ovarian cancer to be tested for the BRCA mutation and for their family members to be tested so they have the opportunity to undergo preventative surgery). The goal of this prevention strategy is to reduce the incidence of ovarian cancer in the province of BC by up to 40%.

These are just a few examples of the successes and there are currently studies in clinical trials that will continue to influence the prevention, diagnosis and treatment protocols to save lives of women at risk of or diagnosed with ovarian cancer. OVCARE continues to advance ovarian cancer research currently with the advanced technology of artificial intelligence, precision medicine, biologically driven therapeutics, and drug and immunotherapies.

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Check out our comprehensive list of researches from GCI to see what interests you