September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

join with the aacr to find better ways to prevent and treat ovarian cancer

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian cancer include malignancies of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the primary peritoneum (which lines the abdominal wall and covers the abdominal organs). 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 screening is difficult, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Ovarian cancer is rare. About 1.3 percent of women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer at some point in their lifetimes, according the NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. Approximately 19,680 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2024 and 12,740 are expected to die from the disease, according to SEER estimates.

Because ovarian cancer often goes untreated until the disease has advanced, the survival rate is low. The five-year relative survival rate is 50.9 percent.

Three types of ovarian cancer occur 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. They 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 such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. 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, Elahere, was approved by the FDA in 2022, she “jumped through many hoops” to get it. She says she has seen “remarkable” progress.  Read her story in the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2023.

WHAT THE AACR IS DOING IN OVARIAN CANCER RESEARCH

Sponsoring Scientific Meetings

  • In October 2023, the AACR presented its sixth biennial special conference on ovarian cancer in Boston, Massachusetts. The AACR’s blog, Cancer Research Catalyst, published an interview with two of the co-chairs of this conference to discuss the highlights.
  • In September 2022, the Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer and the AACR presented the Virtual Ovarian Cancer Research Series. The goal of the series is to bring together clinicians and researchers from institutions worldwide to share ideas on 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.
  • Shuang Zhang, PhD, of the Guangzhou Medical University in China, is examining the molecular features and differentiation hierarchy of ovarian cancer stem cells.

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 recieved AACR-AstraZeneca Ovarian Cancer Research Fellowships.

  • Dr. Nesic is using genome-wide CRISPR screens to identify mechanisms of resistance to PARP inhibitors in ovarian cancer cell lines.
  • Dr. Salvioni is investigating how homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) status shapes the immune landscape of tumors.

Sung-Min Hwang, PhD, of Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City received an AACR-Bristol Myers Squibb Immuno-oncology Research Fellowship in 2022. Dr. Hwang aims to explore XBP1 protein signaling in ovarian cancer.

for more information

Please see our page on ovarian cancer for information on prevention, screening and treatment.