Our ovarian cancer research

Our ovarian cancer research

Ovarian cancer (OC) is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in Western women, but despite extensive research efforts survival has little improved over the last 20 years. OC is still largely treated as a single disease with surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, followed by six cycles of platinum-based chemotherapy. An early detection test remains elusive, evidence shows that screening is unlikely to be effective, and there are very few practical ways to reduce risk, apart from the use of the oral contraceptive pill.

By contrast, the discovery of the role of genetic mutations offers substantial opportunities for improving treatment for women with ovarian cancer, as well as reducing risk in their female relatives.

Key areas of investigation

Prof David Thomas
Prof David Thomas

MoST clinical trials

The Genomic Cancer Medicine Program uses Garvan’s whole genome sequencing facilities in the MoST Clinical Trials to identify more effective treatments for cancer patients, as well as to understand heritable cancer risk in the Genetic Cancer Risk Study (RisC) and risk management as part of the Surveillance in the Multi-Organ Cancer prone syndromes (SMOC+) Study.

MoST patients are genomically screened to see if they're suitable and if there are variants that can guide the treatments. These trials are looking to see if a treatment will work, or work more effectively than another treatment.

 

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Long-term survivors and MOCOG

Only some 35–40% of HGSC patients survive five years, but a small number of patients – known as ‘exceptional responders’ – survive much longer to become long-term survivors (LTS). Led by researchers in the US, Canada, UK and Australia, the Multidisciplinary Ovarian Cancer Outcomes Group (MOCOG) was formed in 2013 to share data and identify women who would benefit from targeted immune therapy, as well as understanding genetic features associated with LTS that may lead to new treatments. MOCOG also looks at behavioural changes that may have had an impact on survival.

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