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About Ovarian Cancer


Ovarian cancer causes around 125,000 deaths globally per year. Over the last 40 years, long term survival rates have changed very little: About 70% of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced stage disease (stages III/IV), of whom only less than 40% will survive more than 5 years. By contrast, women diagnosed with earlier stage (stage 1) disease have a 5-year survival rate greater than 90%. The standard treatment for ovarian cancer consists of maximal cytoreductive surgery followed by administration of platinum and taxane-based chemotherapy. Most patients with advanced stage (III/IV) ovarian cancer initially respond well to primary treatment with surgery and chemotherapy, but cancer usually recurs with a drug-resistant phenotype.


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There are few clinical intervention strategies that are effective at either detecting epithelial ovarian cancer at the earliest most treatable stages, or chemo preventive strategies to reduce the burden of disease mortality. Signs and symptoms of early stage ovarian cancer are usually absent, and even when they are present in patients with late stage disease, symptoms are often subtle and may vary by ovarian cancer histotype. There are currently no effective screening approaches for detecting early stage EOC. Serum CA-125 testing is useful for differential disease diagnosis, but has not been shown to be an effective early-stage screening approach due to its low sensitivity and specificity. HE4 is another candidate ovarian cancer screening marker, although it has not been extensively tested in clinical trials. Vaginal ultrasonography can detect adnexal masses consistent with ovarian cancer, but once again this does not appear to be effective for detecting early stage ovarian cancer.

There are 4 main sub-groups of Ovarian Cancer: High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer, Mucinous Ovarian Cancer, Clear Cell Ovarian Cancer, and Endometrioid Ovarian Cancer. To learn more about the different types of ovarian cancer, please click the different sub-groups below:

A risk factor is anything that increases the likelihood of getting a certain disease like cancer. Each cancer has a different set of risk factors, unique to its histotype. Scientific research has uncovered multiple risk factors that could increase the likelihood of a woman developing epithelial ovarian cancer. Below you will see the most common risk (increased or decreased) of Ovarian Cancer. Click to learn more. 

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Most ovarian cancers are identified in a late stage and are treated with Cisplatin. Though our groups are not directly involved in patient studies of this treatment and outcomes, we do study cellular responses to this and other therapies. This may include assessment of cell survival, or more mechanistic studies focused on the cellular responses (such as gene expression). We may also be interested in the responses of normal tissue carrying different genotypes or cancer cells mimicking specific ovarian cancer histological (cell-derived) subtypes. With these studies we hope to shed light on the efficacy and feasibility of current and future therapies.

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