September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
join with the aacr to find better ways to prevent and treat ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer encompasses cancers of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the primary peritoneum, which is the tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers the abdominal organs. Taken together, this group is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States.
These cancers often go undetected until they’ve reached advanced stages. They may not cause early signs or symptoms, and it is difficult to screen for the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Ovarian cancer is rare – about 1.3 percent of women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer at some point in their life, according to data from the NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. An estimated 19,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 13,270 are expected to die from the disease in 2023.
But because it often goes untreated until the disease has advanced, the survival rate is low, with a five-year relative survival rate of 50.8 percent.
There are three types of ovarian cancer in adults. Ovarian epithelial cancer begins in the tissue covering the ovary, lining the fallopian tube, or the peritoneum. Ovarian germ cell tumors start in the egg or germ cells. Ovarian low malignant potential tumors begin in the tissue covering the ovary, and are characterized by abnormal cells that may become cancer, but usually do not.
Risk factors for developing ovarian cancer include family history and the presence of inherited gene mutations. There are tests that can detect mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers and some additional types of cancer. Other risk factors include the use of estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy and the use of fertility drugs.
One Woman’s Story
Jackie VanRaaphorst of Snoqualmie, Washington, received “every possible treatment” for her ovarian cancer, only to have the cancer come back. When a new drug, mirvetuximab soravtansine-gynx (Elahere), was approved by the FDA in late 2022, she “jumped through many hoops” to get it and has seen “remarkable” progress. Read her story in the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2023.
WHAT THE AACR IS DOING IN OVARIAN CANCER RESEARCH
Ovarian Cancer-Focused Seminar Series
- In October 2023, the AACR presented the AACR Special Conference: Ovarian Cancer in Boston, Massachusetts. The AACR is committed to supporting the ovarian cancer workforce and ovarian cancer patients. This meeting marked the AACR’s sixth Biennial Special Conference on Ovarian Cancer. The AACR’s blog, Cancer Research Catalyst, carried an interview with one of the co-chairs of this conference: AACR Special Conferences Gather Investigators Advancing Research on Gynecologic Cancers.
- In September 2022, the Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer and the AACR presented the Virtual Ovarian Cancer Research Series. The goal of the Seminar Series is to bring together clinicians and researchers from across many disciplines and institutions worldwide to share ideas and advance the field of ovarian cancer research.
Supporting Research Grants
The AACR has recently awarded research grants to investigators pursuing promising research related to gynecologic cancers.
Two scientists received grants for ovarian cancer research in 2022 from the Victoria’s Secret Global Fund for Women’s Cancers Career Development Award, in Partnership with Pelotonia and the AACR:
- Martina McDermott, PhD, of UCLA, is assessing the potential of the protein CLDN16 as a target in gynecological cancers, a critical step toward testing the clinical efficacy of a CLDN16-based antibody drug conjugate (ADC) in patients with CLDN16-positive ovarian and endometrial cancers.
- Shuang Zhang, PhD, of the Guangzhou Medical University in China, plans to examine the molecular features and the differentiation hierarchy of cancer stem cells in high-grade serous ovarian cancer.
Also in 2022, Ksenija Nesic, PhD, of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia and Anna Salvioni, PharmD, PhD, University Cancer Institute Toulouse Oncopole (IUCT Oncopole) in France were awarded AACR-AstraZeneca Ovarian Cancer Research Fellowships.
- Dr. Nesic is using genome-wide CRISPR screens to identify both novel mechanisms of resistance to PARP inhibitors, and targets of PARP inhibitor synergy, in ovarian cancer cell line models with different DNA defects.
- By characterizing populations of T cells in ovarian cancer samples with different homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) status, Dr. Salvioni aims to elucidate how HRD shapes the immune landscape of tumors.
Sung-Min Hwang, PhD, of Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City was awarded an AACR-Bristol Myers Squibb Immuno-oncology Research Fellowship in 2022. Dr. Hwang aims to explore how XBP1 protein signaling operates as a novel transcriptional regulator controlling the expression of factors required for optimal T cell activation, differentiation, and anti-tumor function in ovarian cancer.
for more information
Please see our page on ovarian cancer, which has information on prevention, screening and treatment of the different types of ovarian cancer.