World Ovarian Cancer Day: Together We’re Stronger

Each year, nearly a quarter of a million women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the disease is responsible for 140,000 deaths annually. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared with 89% of women with breast cancer. We ask that you join us on World Ovarian Cancer Day (May 8th) in the fight against the most lethal form of gynecologic cancer.

WOCD.05.08.14

LEARN: World Ovarian Cancer Day — May 8, 2015

On May 8, 2015, the individuals from around the world are invited to join the global movement to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. This year the theme will celebrate the natural bond women have with each other, encouraging people to send in photos of celebratory bonding moments and to sign the awareness pledge located on the website (www.ovariancancerday.org) to spread the word about ovarian cancer for the third annual World Ovarian Cancer Day (WOCD).

Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, President Obama’s sister, speaks out about losing her mother to ovarian cancer.

“Now in its third year, World Ovarian Cancer Day has grown globally to over 78 organizations from 25 countries,” says Elisabeth Baugh, chair of the WOCD international organizing committee and CEO of Ovarian Cancer Canada. “In celebrating the unique bonds of women, we are acknowledging the strong drive they have to share and help each other. Without women, the world would not be. Joining together, our common voice symbolizes a global support group for the 250,000 women who will be diagnosed this year with ovarian cancer.”

Celebrate the women you love, trust, and are proud to know by helping to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and view a video of celebratory images to be released globally on May 8, World Ovarian Cancer Day.

“Our outreach has demonstrated the ability of this campaign to increase awareness of the disease and to connect people internationally with the resources available to educate others,” explained members of the Steering Committee, Calaneet Balas, CEO of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, Annwen Jones, Target Ovarian Cancer and Alison Amos, Ovarian Cancer Australia. “This year we want to put faces to that movement – faces of women who care about and support each other.”

In 2015, not only cancer organizations, but all interested groups who care about the health of women internationally are invited to register and partner with us. The pledge also engages individuals worldwide, empowering them with information about ovarian cancer and a quick and easy way to pass on the word about the disease.

All those who sign the World Ovarian Cancer Day pledge at www.ovariancancerday.org will receive an e-card on May 8 with ovarian cancer risk and symptom information. This card is to be passed along to at least five friends, who in turn will be encouraged to pass it along to their friends.

Each year, nearly a quarter of a million women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the disease is responsible for 140,000 deaths annually. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared with 89% of women with breast cancer. Women in developed and developing countries are similarly affected by ovarian cancer.

The recent disclosure by Angelina Jolie Pitt in a New York Times Op-Ed about prophylactic surgery to remove her fallopian tubes and ovaries because of a genetic predisposition for ovarian and breast cancer has put knowledge about your family history in the spotlight. Approximately 15%- 20% of cases of ovarian cancer are due to family history. This means having a close blood relation (mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, granddaughter, aunt or niece) on either your mother’s or your father’s side of the family who has had breast cancer before the age of 50 or ovarian cancer at any age.

In addition to sharing symptom and risk information, WOCD will also focus on prevention of ovarian cancer.

WOCD’s social media campaign includes the WOCD website (available in 4 languages: English, French, Portuguese and Spanish), Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. Activities in 2014 were highlighted in photos and through the pledge dissemination which reached over 15,000 people. This will continue to grow on May 8, including “lighting the world in teal” – the color that represents ovarian cancer.

World Ovarian Cancer Day has become a global movement in three short years. Uniting patient organizations globally, it has also sparked interest and involvement from healthcare professionals in countries around the world. This year, we celebrate the voice of women in making a difference as we unite and speak with one voice to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. Globally, rejoicing on our unique bond, we will ensure that no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.

Please join us by signing the pledge form.

WOCDLate_Diagnosis_large1-980x600

EDUCATE: Ovarian Cancer Facts:

Libby’s H*O*P*E* is dedicated to my 26-year old cousin, Elizabeth “Libby” Remick, who died from ovarian cancer in July 2008. Our mission is to educate ovarian cancer survivors and their families, as well as the general public, about ovarian cancer under the principle that “information is power.” The key to a significant reduction in deaths from ovarian cancer is early detection. Early detection is best achieved by having women listen to their bodies for the subtle, yet persistent, early warning signs & symptoms of the disease as described below. Together, we can raise money for a reliable early detection test, and ultimately a cure, for ovarian cancer.

Please take time to educate yourself with respect to the important ovarian cancer awareness facts provided below.

— Overview: Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. It is the fifth leading cancer cause of death among U.S. women.

By the Numbers: In 2015, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be approximately 21,290 new ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. ACS estimates that 14,180 U.S. women will die from the disease, or about 38 women per day. The loss of life is equivalent to 28 Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashes with no survivors every year.

Early Warning Signs: Ovarian cancer is not a “silent” disease; it is a “subtle” disease. Recent studies indicate that some women may experience persistent, nonspecific symptoms, such as (i) bloating, (ii) pelvic or abdominal pain, (iii) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or (iv) urinary urgency or frequency. Women who experience such symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should seek prompt medical evaluation.

Who’s Affected: Ovarian cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women.

Risk Reduction: Pregnancy, the long-term use of oral contraceptives, and tubal ligation reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Recent research suggests that the most common form of ovarian cancer actually starts in the fallopian tubes. Any woman who is about to undergo gynecologic surgery may wish to discuss with her surgeon the possibility of having her fallopian tubes removed at that time.

Importance of Family History: Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a paternal or maternal family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Inherited mutations in BRCA1/BRCA2 genes increase risk. Women of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry are at higher risk for BRCA gene mutations. The incidence of ovarian ovarian cancer among Ashkenazi Jewish women is 1-in-40 versus 1-in-72 in the general population. Studies indicate that preventive surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes in women who possess a BRCA gene mutation decreases the risk of ovarian cancer.

Genetic Couseling: If a woman has a family history of breast or ovarian cancer as described above, she may wish to seek genetic counselling. In fact, there is a recent shift in thinking that any woman with ovarian cancer should also seek genetic counselling as an important step for herself and other members of her family.

Other Risk Factors: Other medical conditions associated with an increased ovarian cancer risk include pelvic inflammatory disease and Lynch syndrome. The use of hormonal replacement therapy has been shown to increase ovarian cancer risk. Tobacco smoking increases the risk of mucinous epithelial ovarian cancer. Heavier body weight may be associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Lack of a Reliable Early Screening Test: There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. A Pap smear is used to detect cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA125 may be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed described above.

Prognosis: If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 15% of all cases are detected at this stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure. The majority of cases (61%) are diagnosed at a distant stage, for which the 5-year survival rate is 27%.

Survival Statistics: The 5-year and 10-year relative survival rates for all disease stages combined are only 45% and 35%, respectively. However, survival varies substantially by age; women younger than 65 are twice as likely to survive 5 years as women 65 and older (58% versus 27%).

Please help us to (i) spread the word about the early warning signs & symptoms of ovarian cancer, and (ii) raise money for ovarian cancer research. The life you save may be your own or that of a loved one.

FIGHT: The “Holy Trinity” of Major U.S. Ovarian Cancer Organizations

There are three major U.S. ovarian cancer organizations that are working to increase ovarian cancer awareness, and/or raise money to fight the disease. They are listed below. Please consider making a donation to one or more of these critically important nonprofit organizations.

  • Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) is the largest independent organization in the U.S. that is dedicated exclusively to funding ovarian cancer research– and to finding a cure. Through its three research programs, OCRF funds many of the best researchers and the most innovative projects.

Since 1998, OCRF has awarded 63 leading medical centers 195 grants for ovarian cancer research: an investment totaling over $50 million. OCRF researchers are taking on ovarian cancer from many angles:

— Developing innovative strategies for early detection;

— Discovering genetic polymorphisms that increase risk for ovarian cancer;

— Understanding the underlying genetics and molecular biology of ovarian cancer;

— Identifying new, better targets for treatment;

— Determining how to super-charge a woman’s immune response to better fight ovarian cancer; and

— Deciphering how and why ovarian cancer spreads, and how to stop it.

You can click here to make a donation to OCRF through the Libby’s H*O*P*E*’s donation page.

  • Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) is one of the foremost advocates for women with ovarian cancer in the U.S. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, OCNA advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. OCNA also educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

To make a donation to OCNA, click here.

  • National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

The mission of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) is to raise awareness and promote education about ovarian cancer. NOCC is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.

Through national programs and local Chapter initiatives, the NOCC’s goal is to make more people aware of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer. In addition, the NOCC provides information to assist the newly diagnosed patient, to provide hope to survivors, and to support caregivers.

To make a donation to NOCC, click here.

INSPIRE: Everyday Heroes in the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer.

Nearly 250,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year around the world, and the disease also affects their families and friends. Please take time to visit the WOCD website and read the inspirational stories about survivors, volunteers, and family members who are overcoming ovarian cancer, as well as the endeavors people are taking on to raise awareness about the disease.

At Libby’s H*O*P*E*, we are amazed each and every day by the inspirational ovarian cancer survivors and family members that we hear about, correspond with, or meet. The stories below represent a small sample of incredible individuals who have successfully fought the disease, as well as those who are currently fighting the disease with courage and grace. There are also stories about women who have died from ovarian cancer, but contributed to ovarian cancer awareness in a unique and special way during life. In addition, there are stories about doctors, advocates, and other inspirational individuals who are clearly making a difference in the fight against the disease.

“Bald is Beautiful,” March 20, 2008.

“Patty Franchi Flaherty Loses Battle to Ovarian Cancer, But Deserves a Long Standing Ovation,” August 19, 2008.

“Oscar Winner Kathy Bates Is an Inspirational Ovarian Cancer Survivor,” February 25, 2009.

— “Rare Form of Ovarian Cancer Not Getting Inspirational 13 Yr. Old Down; You Can Help!,” February 26, 2009.

— “Meet Laurey Masterton, 20-Year Ovarian Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire,” March 20, 2009.

— “The Rock Band ‘N.E.D.’: Their Medical Skills Save Many; Their Music Could Save Thousands,” March 29, 2009.

“A Wish To Build A Dream On,” May 3, 2009.

“Husband’s Love For Wife Inspires A 9,000 Mile Bike Trek To Raise Money For Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Cancer Prevention,” May 14, 2009.

“Gloria Johns Was Told ‘Ovarian Cancer Patients Don’t Live Long Enough … To Have Support Groups;’ She Proved Otherwise,” June 5, 2009.

“Vox Populi:* How Do Your Define “Tragedy?“, January 22, 2010.

— “Smile, Open Your Eyes, Love and Go On,” July 28, 2010.

“PBS Documentary, ‘The Whisper: The Silent Crisis of Ovarian Cancer,'” September 21, 2010.

“Determined Teen Loses Ovarian Cancer Battle, But Her Courage Inspires An Entire Community,” December 28, 2010.

“Mrs. Australia Quest Finalist Veronica Cristovao Is Raising Ovarian Cancer Awareness ‘Down Under'”, February 28, 2011.

— “Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go …”, July 28, 2012.

— “Crowd Funding:” Paying Medical Bills With a Little Help From Your Friends (and Strangers Too!), January 17, 2013.

___________________________

For more information on World Ovarian Cancer Day visit: www.ovariancancerday.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WorldOvarianCancerDay

Twitter: @OvarianCancerDY

Pinterest: @OvarianCancerDY

Each participating country is linked through the dedicated website which has been established for World Ovarian Cancer Day. To find out more about activities in each country, please contact the local organization directly through the website at http://www.ovariancancerday.org/get-involved/

World Ovarian Cancer Day: One Voice for Every Woman

Each year, nearly a quarter of a million women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the disease is responsible for 140,000 deaths annually. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared with 89% of women with breast cancer. We ask that you join us on World Ovarian Cancer Day (May 8th) in the fight against the most lethal form of gynecologic cancer.

WOCD_Sharable_Graphic_square_2014

LEARN: World Ovarian Cancer Day — May 8, 2014

On May 8, join the global movement to raise awareness about ovarian cancer by pledging to spread the word about the most serious gynecological cancer during the second annual World Ovarian Cancer Day (WOCD). The pledge to pass on the awareness message to at least five friends will bring to life this year’s theme One Voice for Every Woman.

“The number one objective of World Ovarian Cancer Day is to increase awareness of this disease and to connect people internationally with the resources available to educate others,” says Elisabeth Baugh, chair of the WOCD international organizing committee and CEO of Ovarian Cancer Canada. “In our inaugural year, 28 cancer organizations from 18 countries participated in getting the word out, largely through social media. In 2014, we are not only inviting cancer organizations, but all interested groups internationally to register and partner with us. With our pledge, we are also involving individuals worldwide, and empowering them with information about ovarian cancer and a quick and easy way to pass on the word about the disease.”

All of those who sign the World Ovarian Cancer Day pledge at www.ovariancancerday.org will receive an e-card on May 8 with ovarian cancer risk and symptom information. This card is to be passed along to at least five friends, who in turn will be encouraged to pass it along to their friends.

Each year, nearly a quarter of a million women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the disease is responsible for 140,000 deaths annually. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared with 89% of women with breast cancer. Women in developed and developing countries are similarly affected by ovarian cancer. There is no test for the early detection of ovarian cancer, a disease characterized around the world by a lack of awareness of symptoms and late stage diagnosis.

WOCD’s social media campaign includes the WOCD website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. To help raise awareness and show international involvement in the inaugural year, partner organizations and individuals from many countries wore teal and posed for photos in front of well-known landmarks holding signs featuring the WOCD “world embrace” logo.

These photographs were shared around the world. Other activities included public awareness events at train and subway stations, and information tables and education sessions at hospitals and cancer centers. These activities will continue to grow on May 8, 2014 along with governmental proclamations and “lighting the world in teal” – the color that represents ovarian cancer. Committee members Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, and Alison Amos, CEO, Ovarian Cancer Australia agree this is a wonderful opportunity. “World Ovarian Cancer Day is an important day for ovarian cancer organizations and communities around the world to unite and speak with one voice to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. We’re proud to be involved with this global initiative and will be passing the awareness message out among those we work with. This activity supports our vision to save lives and ensure that no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.” “For women living with the disease and their families and friends, World Ovarian Cancer Day has tremendous meaning,” says Baugh. “Through this important day, we will continue to build momentum and a sense of solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer. Every woman is at some risk for ovarian cancer and awareness remains our best defence.”

WOCDLate_Diagnosis_large1-980x600

EDUCATE: Ovarian Cancer Facts:

Libby’s H*O*P*E* is dedicated to my 26-year old cousin, Elizabeth “Libby” Remick, who died from ovarian cancer in July 2008. Our mission is to educate ovarian cancer survivors and their families, as well as the general public, about ovarian cancer under the principle that “information is power.” The key to a significant reduction in deaths from ovarian cancer is early detection. Early detection is best achieved by having women listen to their bodies for the subtle, yet persistent, early warning signs & symptoms of the disease as described below. Together, we can raise money for a reliable early detection test, and ultimately a cure, for ovarian cancer.

Please take time to educate yourself with respect to the important ovarian cancer awareness facts provided below.

–Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

–In 2014, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be approximately 21,980 new ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. ACS estimates that 14,270 U.S. women will die from the disease, or about 40 women per day. The loss of life is equivalent to 28 Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashes with no survivors every year.

–Ovarian cancer is not a “silent” disease; it is a “subtle” disease. Recent studies indicate that some women may experience persistent, nonspecific symptoms, such as (i) bloating, (ii) pelvic or abdominal pain, (iii) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or (iv) urinary urgency or frequency. Women who experience such symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should seek prompt medical evaluation.

–Ovarian cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women.

–Pregnancy and the long-term use of oral contraceptives reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

–Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Inherited mutations in BRCA1/BRCA2 genes increase risk. Women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry are at higher risk for BRCA gene mutations.

–There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. A Pap smear is used to detect cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA125 may be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed above.

–If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 19% of all cases are detected at this stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure.

–The 10-year relative survival rate for all disease stages combined is only 38%.

Please help us spread the word about the early warning signs & symptoms of ovarian cancer and raise money for ovarian cancer research. The life you save may be your own or that of a loved one.

FIGHT: The “Holy Trinity” of Major U.S. Ovarian Cancer Organizations

There are three major U.S. ovarian cancer organizations that are working to increase ovarian cancer awareness, and/or raise money to fight the disease. They are listed below. Please consider making a donation to one of these critically important nonprofit organizations.

  • Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) is the largest independent organization in the U.S. that is dedicated exclusively to funding ovarian cancer research– and to finding a cure. Through its three research programs, OCRF funds many of the best researchers and the most innovative projects.

Since 1998, OCRF has awarded 63 leading medical centers 195 grants for ovarian cancer research: an investment totaling over $50 million. OCRF researchers are taking on ovarian cancer from many angles:

— Developing innovative strategies for early detection;

— Discovering genetic polymorphisms that increase risk for ovarian cancer;

— Understanding the underlying genetics and molecular biology of ovarian cancer;

— Identifying new, better targets for treatment;

— Determining how to super-charge a woman’s immune response to better fight ovarian cancer; and

— Deciphering how and why ovarian cancer spreads, and how to stop it.

You can click here to make a donation to OCRF through the Libby’s H*O*P*E*’s donation page.

  • Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) is one of the foremost advocates for women with ovarian cancer in the U.S. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, OCNA advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. OCNA also educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

To make a donation to OCNA, click here.

  • National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

The mission of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) is to raise awareness and promote education about ovarian cancer. NOCC is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.

Through national programs and local Chapter initiatives, the NOCC’s goal is to make more people aware of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer. In addition, the NOCC provides information to assist the newly diagnosed patient, to provide hope to survivors, and to support caregivers.

To make a donation to NOCC, click here.

INSPIRE: Everyday Heroes in the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer.

Nearly a quarter million women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year around the world, and the disease also affects their families and friends. Please take time to visit the WOCD website and read inspirational stories about survivors, volunteers, and family members who are overcoming ovarian cancer, as well as the endeavors people are taking on to raise awareness about the disease.

At Libby’s H*O*P*E*, we are amazed each and every day by the inspirational ovarian cancer survivors and family members that we hear about, correspond with, or meet. The stories below represent a small sample of incredible individuals who have successfully fought the disease, as well as those who are currently fighting the disease with courage and grace. There are also stories about women who have died from ovarian cancer, but contributed to ovarian cancer awareness in a unique and special way during life. In addition, there are stories about doctors, advocates, and other inspirational individuals who are clearly making a difference in the fight against the disease.

“Bald is Beautiful,” March 20, 2008.

“Patty Franchi Flaherty Loses Battle to Ovarian Cancer, But Deserves a Long Standing Ovation,” August 19, 2008.

“Oscar Winner Kathy Bates Is an Inspirational Ovarian Cancer Survivor,” February 25, 2009.

— “Rare Form of Ovarian Cancer Not Getting Inspirational 13 Yr. Old Down; You Can Help!,” February 26, 2009.

— “Meet Laurey Masterton, 20-Year Ovarian Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire,” March 20, 2009.

— “The Rock Band ‘N.E.D.’: Their Medical Skills Save Many; Their Music Could Save Thousands,” March 29, 2009.

“A Wish To Build A Dream On,” May 3, 2009.

“Husband’s Love For Wife Inspires A 9,000 Mile Bike Trek To Raise Money For Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Cancer Prevention,” May 14, 2009.

“Gloria Johns Was Told ‘Ovarian Cancer Patients Don’t Live Long Enough … To Have Support Groups;’ She Proved Otherwise,” June 5, 2009.

“Vox Populi:* How Do Your Define “Tragedy?“, January 22, 2010.

— “Smile, Open Your Eyes, Love and Go On,” July 28, 2010.

“PBS Documentary, ‘The Whisper: The Silent Crisis of Ovarian Cancer,'” September 21, 2010.

“Determined Teen Loses Ovarian Cancer Battle, But Her Courage Inspires An Entire Community,” December 28, 2010.

“Mrs. Australia Quest Finalist Veronica Cristovao Is Raising Ovarian Cancer Awareness ‘Down Under'”, February 28, 2011.

— “Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go …”, July 28, 2012.

— “Crowd Funding:” Paying Medical Bills With a Little Help From Your Friends (and Strangers Too!), January 17, 2013.

___________________________

For more information on World Ovarian Cancer Day visit: www.ovariancancerday.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WorldOvarianCancerDay

Twitter: @OvarianCancerDY

Pinterest: @OvarianCancerDY

Each participating country is linked through the dedicated website which has been established for World Ovarian Cancer Day. To find out more about activities in each country, please contact the local organization directly through the website at http://www.ovariancancerday.org/get-involved/

Dana-Farber Oncologists Differ Widely on the Use of Multiplex Tumor Genomic Testing

A new study by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute suggests that not all doctors are ready to embrace tests that may identify hundreds of genomic changes in a patient’s tumor sample for the purpose of determining appropriate treatment.

Many cancer researchers believe that cutting-edge advances in genomics will pave the way for personalized or “precision” cancer medicine for all patients in the near future. A new study by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, however, suggest that not all doctors are ready to embrace tests that look for hundreds of genomic changes in a patient’s tumor sample, while others plan to offer this type of cancer genomic tumor testing to most of their patients. The study findings were published recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology [1], along with an accompanying editorial. [2]

The wide variation in attitudes was in part determined by physicians’ “genomic confidence.” Physicians who had a lot of confidence in their ability to use and explain genomic findings were more likely to want to prescribe the test and consider using test results when making treatment recommendations. Other physicians had lower levels of genomic confidence and were more reluctant to offer such testing. These findings are particularly interesting because the survey was carried out at the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), which has a comprehensive research program. The DF/BWCC research program allows all consenting patients to have genomic tumor testing, which is capable of finding gene mutations and other DNA alternations that drive a patient’s cancer. In some cases, the genomic tumor profiles identify “druggable” targets that may allow doctors to use specific drugs known to be effective against particular gene mutations or alterations.

The researchers were perplexed by another key study survey finding: 42 percent of responding oncologists approved of telling patients about genomic tumor test results even when their significance for the patient’s outlook and treatment is uncertain. This issue comes with the growing use of predictive multiplex genomic testing, which can identify tens or hundreds of gene mutations simultaneously and often detects rare DNA variants that may or may not be relevant to the treatment of an individual’s cancer.

“Some oncologists said we shouldn’t return these results to the patient, and others say ‘of course we should give them to the patient’,” said Stacy W. Gray, M.D., AM, of Dana-Farber, first author of the report. “I think the fact that we found so much variation in physicians’ confidence about their ability to use genetic data at a tertiary care, National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center makes us pause and wonder about how confident physicians in the community are about dealing with this,” she said. “It begs the question at a national level, how are we going to make sure that this technology for cancer care is adequately delivered?”

The study survey was conducted in 2011 and early 2012 as a baseline assessment of physicians’ attitudes prior to the rollout of the genomic tumor testing project referred to as “Profile” (which formerly utilized a technology platform called “OncoMap“) at DF/BWCC.

For purposes of the study, a total of 160 Dana-Farber adult cancer physicians – including medical oncologists (43%), surgeons (29%), and radiation oncologists (19%) – participated in the survey. They were asked about their current use of multiplex tumor genomic testing, their attitudes about multiplex testing, and their confidence in the ability to understand and use genomic data. The survey did not include a direct test of the physicians’ knowledge.

Among the many intriguing findings of this study, a wide variability in interest in multiplex tumor genomic testing was identified—25% of respondents anticipated testing more than 90% of their patients, whereas 17% of respondents anticipated testing 10% or less. Beliefs related to the potential value of multiplex tumor genomic testing were largely positive; most expressed belief that this form of testing would increase treatment (73%) and research options (90%) for patients, as well as both physician (80%) and patient satisfaction (80%).

Despite the foregoing, less than 50% of the physicians planned to view the multiplex tumor genomic testing results routinely. Moreover, the majority of respondents planned only to “rarely” or “sometimes” use the clinically relevant results (58%), called “Tier 1” by the study authors, and potentially actionable results (88%), called “Tier 2,” to assist them in the treatment of patients. However, the respondents more often indicated that results of multiplex tumor genomic tests should be shared with patients, particularly findings revealing the presence of a Tier 1 (clinically relevant) genomic variant—87% believed that these findings should be discussed—versus a Tier 2 (potentially actionable) genomic variant (50%), or a Tier 3 (uncertain significance) genomic variant (40%). A substantial minority (39%) also disagreed with a Dana-Farber Cancer Institute policy prohibiting the disclosure of Tier 3 genomic variants to patients.

Interestingly, despite limited exposure to routine genomic tests for a large portion of the respondents, the stated “genomic confidence” of participating physicians was quite high. The majority of participants reported that they were “somewhat” or “very” confident in their (i) knowledge of genomics (78%), (ii) ability to explain genomics (86%), and (iii) ability to use genomic results to guide treatment (74%); however, a substantial minority of the Dana-Farber physicians (28%) reported genomic confidence of “not very” or “not at all confident.”

Based upon the study survey findings, Dr. Gray and her colleagues conclude that there is “little consensus” on how physicians plan to use multiplex tumor genomic testing for personalized cancer care, and they suggest the need for evidence-based guidelines to help doctors determine when testing is indicated.

“I think one of the strengths of this study is that its information comes from an institution where ‘precision cancer medicine’ is available to everyone,” commented Barrett Rollins, M.D., Ph.D., Dana-Farber’s Chief Scientific Officer and a co-author of the paper. “It highlights the fact there’s a lot of work to be done before this can be considered a standard approach in oncology.”

The senior author of the study is Jane Weeks, M.D., MSc, of Dana-Farber; additional authors include Angel Cronin, MS, of Dana-Farber and Katherine Hicks-Courant, BA, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

The research was supported by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Gray also receives support from the American Cancer Society (120529-MRSG-11-006-01-CPPB) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (U01HG006492)

Pursuant to a new phase of Profile, initiated by Dana-Farber in 2013, a more advanced technology platform (called “OncoPanel“) utilizes “massively parallel” or “next-generation” sequencing to read the genetic code of approximately 300 genes in each patient’s tumor sample. “Massively parallel” refers to the technology’s capacity for sequencing large numbers of genes simultaneously. The 300 genes evaluated in connection with the OncoPanel were chosen because they have been implicated in a variety of cancers.

In addition to the complete DNA sequencing of more than 300 genomic regions to detect known and unknown cancer-related mutations, the OncoPanel technology can also examine those regions for gains and losses of DNA sequences and rearrangements of DNA on chromosomes. The results are entered into a database for research purposes, but, if a patient agrees, the clinically important findings can also be returned to their doctor for use in the clinic.

The OncoPanel advanced sequencing platform is an important update to Dana-Farber’s original OncoMap platform. OncoPanel can detect not only commonly known gene mutations, but also other critical types of cancer-related DNA alterations not previously identified. In contrast, OncoMap was limited to screening for known cancer-related gene mutations. The OncoPanel testing is done at the Center for Advanced Molecular Diagnostics, a CLIA-certified laboratory operated by the Department of Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

References:

1./ Gray SW, et al. Original Reports – Health Services and OutcomesPhysicians’ Attitudes About Multiplex Tumor Genomic TestingJ. Clin. Oncol., published online before print on March 24, 2014, doi:10.1200/JCO.2013.52.4298.

2./ Hall MJ. Conflicted Confidence: Academic Oncologists’ Views on Multiplex Tumor Genomic Testing. J. Clin. Oncol. Editorial, published online before print March 24, 2014, doi:10.1200/JCO.2013.54.8016

 

Inaugural World Ovarian Cancer Day: “World Embrace” to Learn, Educate, Fight & Inspire

May 8th, 2013, is the first World Ovarian Cancer Day. On this day, 26 ovarian cancer organizations from 17 countries around the world will unite to educate their communities about ovarian cancer and its symptoms. For women living with the disease, and their families and friends, World Ovarian Cancer Day will build a sense of solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer.

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“LEARN:” Inaugural World Ovarian Cancer Day — May 8, 2013

Ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of all gynecologic cancers, and is characterized around the world by a lack of awareness of symptoms and late stage diagnosis.

Today, May 8th, 2013, is the first World Ovarian Cancer Day (WOCD). On this day, ovarian cancer organizations from around the world will unite to educate their communities about ovarian cancer and its symptoms. For women living with the disease, and their families and friends, World Ovarian Cancer Day will build a sense of solidarity in the fight against the disease.

In 2009, representatives from patient organizations working in ovarian cancer around the globe came together for the first time in a two day workshop, to discuss the common issues they faced in their work.

Unlike more common cancers, there are significant challenges as the disease has been largely overlooked and underfunded to this point. Symptoms which are similar to those of less serious illnesses, the absence of an early detection test, and the resulting late diagnosis and poor outcomes means there are few survivors of the disease to become advocates. This initial meeting galvanized the community to begin thinking about what could be accomplished on a global level to begin changing this situation.

By coming together since that first meeting, the group has considered the many gaps in understanding and managing the disease, building awareness in the general public about symptoms and the importance of family history, and increasing funding for research .The idea of a Global Awareness Day for Ovarian Cancer was put forward and embraced by all participants as an important joint international action creating a powerful momentum.

A brand for World Ovarian Cancer Day, “World Embrace,” was developed and launched to the international group in March 2013 in preparation for this important day.

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“EDUCATE:” Ovarian Cancer Facts:

Libby’s H*O*P*E* is dedicated to my 26-year old cousin, Elizabeth “Libby” Remick, who died from ovarian cancer in July 2008. Our mission is to educate ovarian cancer survivors and their families, as well as the general public, about ovarian cancer under the principle that “information is power.” The key to a significant reduction in deaths from ovarian cancer is early detection. Early detection is best achieved by having women listen to their bodies for the subtle, yet persistent, early warning signs & symptoms of the disease as described below. Together, we can raise money for a reliable early detection test, and ultimately a cure, for ovarian cancer.

Please take time to educate yourself with respect to the important ovarian cancer awareness facts provided below.

–Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

–In 2012, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be approximately 22,280 new ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. ACS estimates that 15,550 U.S. women will die from the disease, or about 43 women per day. The loss of life is equivalent to 28 Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashes with no survivors every year.

–Ovarian cancer is not a “silent” disease; it is a “subtle” disease. Recent studies indicate that some women may experience persistent, nonspecific symptoms, such as (i) bloating, (ii) pelvic or abdominal pain, (iii) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or (iv) urinary urgency or frequency. Women who experience such symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should seek prompt medical evaluation.

–Ovarian cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women.

–Pregnancy and the long-term use of oral contraceptives reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

–Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Inherited mutations in BRCA1/BRCA2 genes increase risk. Women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry are at higher risk for BRCA gene mutations.

–There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. A Pap smear is used to detect cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA125 may be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed above.

–If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 19% of all cases are detected at this stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure.

–The 10-year relative survival rate for all disease stages combined is only 38%.

Please help us spread the word about the early warning signs & symptoms of ovarian cancer and raise money for ovarian cancer research. The life you save may be your own or that of a loved one.

“FIGHT:” The “Holy Trinity” of Major U.S. Ovarian Cancer Organizations

There are three major U.S. ovarian cancer organizations that are working to increase ovarian cancer awareness, and/or raise money to fight the disease. They are listed below. Please consider making a donation to one of these critically important nonprofit organizations.

  • Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) is the largest independent organization in the U.S. that is dedicated exclusively to funding ovarian cancer research– and to finding a cure. Through its three research programs, OCRF funds many of the best researchers and the most innovative projects.

Since 1998, OCRF has awarded 63 leading medical centers 195 grants for ovarian cancer research: an investment totaling over $50 million. OCRF researchers are taking on ovarian cancer from many angles:

— Developing innovative strategies for early detection;

— Discovering genetic polymorphisms that increase risk for ovarian cancer;

— Understanding the underlying genetics and molecular biology of ovarian cancer;

— Identifying new, better targets for treatment;

— Determining how to super-charge a woman’s immune response to better fight ovarian cancer; and

— Deciphering how and why ovarian cancer spreads, and how to stop it.

You can click here to make a donation to OCRF through the Libby’s H*O*P*E*’s donation page.

  • Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) is one of the foremost advocates for women with ovarian cancer in the U.S. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, OCNA advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. OCNA also educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

To make a donation to OCNA, click here.

  • National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

The mission of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) is to raise awareness and promote education about ovarian cancer. NOCC is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.

Through national programs and local Chapter initiatives, the NOCC’s goal is to make more people aware of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer. In addition, the NOCC provides information to assist the newly diagnosed patient, to provide hope to survivors, and to support caregivers.

To make a donation to NOCC, click here.

“INSPIRE:” Everyday Heroes in the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer.

Nearly a quarter million women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year around the world, and the disease also affects their families and friends. Please take time to visit the WOCD website and read inspirational stories about survivors, volunteers, and family members who are overcoming ovarian cancer, as well as the endeavors people are taking on to raise awareness about the disease.

At Libby’s H*O*P*E*, we are amazed each and every day by the inspirational ovarian cancer survivors and family members that we hear about, correspond with, or meet. The stories below represent a small sample of incredible individuals who have successfully fought the disease, as well as those who are currently fighting the disease with courage and grace. There are also stories about women who have died from ovarian cancer, but contributed to ovarian cancer awareness in a unique and special way during life. In addition, there are stories about doctors, advocates, and other inspirational individuals who are clearly making a difference in the fight against the disease.

“Bald is Beautiful,” March 20, 2008.

“Patty Franchi Flaherty Loses Battle to Ovarian Cancer, But Deserves a Long Standing Ovation,” August 19, 2008.

“Oscar Winner Kathy Bates Is an Inspirational Ovarian Cancer Survivor,” February 25, 2009.

— “Rare Form of Ovarian Cancer Not Getting Inspirational 13 Yr. Old Down; You Can Help!,” February 26, 2009.

— “Meet Laurey Masterton, 20-Year Ovarian Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire,” March 20, 2009.

— “The Rock Band ‘N.E.D.’: Their Medical Skills Save Many; Their Music Could Save Thousands,” March 29, 2009.

“A Wish To Build A Dream On,” May 3, 2009.

“Husband’s Love For Wife Inspires A 9,000 Mile Bike Trek To Raise Money For Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Cancer Prevention,” May 14, 2009.

“Gloria Johns Was Told ‘Ovarian Cancer Patients Don’t Live Long Enough … To Have Support Groups;’ She Proved Otherwise,” June 5, 2009.

“Vox Populi:* How Do Your Define “Tragedy?“, January 22, 2010.

— “Smile, Open Your Eyes, Love and Go On,” July 28, 2010.

“PBS Documentary, ‘The Whisper: The Silent Crisis of Ovarian Cancer,'” September 21, 2010.

“Determined Teen Loses Ovarian Cancer Battle, But Her Courage Inspires An Entire Community,” December 28, 2010.

“Mrs. Australia Quest Finalist Veronica Cristovao Is Raising Ovarian Cancer Awareness ‘Down Under'”, February 28, 2011.

— “Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go …”, July 28, 2012.

— “Crowd Funding:” Paying Medical Bills With a Little Help From Your Friends (and Strangers Too!), January 17, 2013.

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For more information on World Ovarian Cancer Day visit: www.ovariancancerday.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WorldOvarianCancerDay

Twitter: @OvarianCancerDY

Pinterest: @OvarianCancerDY

Each participating country is linked through the dedicated website which has been established for World Ovarian Cancer Day. To find out more about activities in each country, please contact the local organization directly through the website at http://www.ovariancancerday.org/get-involved/

U.K. Researchers Launch Clinical Trial of Mercaptopurine (6-MP) In Women with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

A Cancer Research UK-funded clinical trial of a new drug for patients with advanced breast or ovarian cancer due to inherited BRCA gene mutations has been launched at the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre at the University of Oxford.

A Cancer Research UK-funded trial of a new drug for patients with advanced breast or ovarian cancer due to inherited BRCA gene faults has been launched at the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre at the University of Oxford (OxFord ECMC).

Mutations in the BRCA 1 (BReast CAncer-1) and BRCA 2 genes are thought to account for around 2-5 percent of all breast cancer cases. Women carrying the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation have a 45-65 percent chance of developing breast cancer, and a 20-45 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer, by the age of 70. Genetic testing for faulty BRCA genes is available for women with a very strong family history.

DNA damage, due to environmental factors and normal metabolic processes inside the cell, occurs at a rate of 1,000 to 1,000,000 molecular lesions per cell per day. A special enzyme (shown above in color), encircles the double helix to repair a broken strand of DNA. Without molecules that can mend DNA single strand and double strand breaks, cells can malfunction, die, or become cancerous. (Photo: Courtesy of Tom Ellenberger, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis)

Cells lacking a properly functioning BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene  are less able to repair DNA damage. These defective cells are more sensitive to (i) platinum-based chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin – which work by causing double-stranded DNA breaks, and (ii) PARP inhibitors, a newer class of drugs which prevent cells lacking a properly functioning BRCA gene from being able to repair damaged DNA. PARP inhibitors have shown promise in clinical trials but, as with most drugs, resistance can develop meaning some women can stop responding.

This trial, led by a team based at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, is looking at a drug called “6MP” (a/k/a mercaptopurine; brand name: Purinethol), which is already used to treat leukemia and is often given in combination with another chemotherapy drug called “methotrexate.”

Earlier studies involving cells grown in the laboratory suggest that a class of drugs called “thiopurines,” which includes 6MP, are effective at killing cancer cells lacking BRCA – a gene which significantly increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer – even after they have developed resistance to treatments like PARP inhibitors and cisplatin.

This trial is one of a growing number looking at matching patients to the most appropriate treatment based on their genetic makeup and that of their cancer – an approach known as “personalized medicine.”

If successful, the results will pave the way for a larger Phase 3 clinical trial, which could lead to an additional treatment option for the 15 out of every 100 women with breast and ovarian cancers, which are caused by faults in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.

Trial leader Dr. Shibani Nicum, a gynecology specialist based at the Oxford ECMC, and a researcher in Oxford University’s Department of Oncology, said: “PARP inhibitors are a powerful new class of drugs developed specifically to target tumors caused by BRCA 1 and BRCA2 faults, but drug resistance remains a problem. We hope that the very encouraging results we have seen in early laboratory studies involving 6MP will lead to increased treatment options for these patients in the future.”

U.K. trial participant Suzanne Cole, 54, from Newbury, has a strong history of ovarian cancer in her family, with her sister, mother and grandmother all having been diagnosed with suspected cases of the disease at a relatively young age. But, it was not until many years later, after she herself was diagnosed with cancer, that doctors were able to trace the cause of this back to a BRCA1 mutation in her family.

Suzanne Cole said: “I was diagnosed in 2009 and initially had surgery then chemotherapy. I was then told about the trial and I went away and studied the information. The doctors were able to answer all my questions and then I agreed to sign up. I’m happy to be a part of this work as it could help others by moving treatments forward.”

Professor Mark Middleton, director of the Oxford ECMC, said: “It’s exciting to see drugs being developed for specific groups of patients who share the same underlying genetic faults in their cancer. Targeted treatments are at the cutting edge of cancer care and we’re proud to be involved in bringing such drugs a step closer to the clinic.”

Dr. Sally Burtles, Cancer Research UK’s director of the ECMC Network, said: “This study helps demonstrate the value of being able to pool subsets of patients who share specific rare faults in their tumor from a UK-wide network of Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres. This will be crucial as we move towards a new era of personalized medicine with treatments targeted according to the individual biological profile of a patient’s cancer.”

For more information on the trial, please visit www.cancerhelp.org.uk, or call the Cancer Research UK cancer information nurses on 0808-800-4040.

Sources:

  • Researchers trial new drug for women with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, Press Release, Cancer Research UK, August 17, 2011.
  • Issaeva N, et al. 6-thioguanine selectively kills BRCA2-defective tumors and overcomes PARP inhibitor resistance. Cancer Res. 2010 Aug 1;70(15):6268-76. Epub 2010 Jul 14. PubMed PMID: 20631063; PubMed PMCID: PMC2913123.

Inherited Mutations in RAD51D Gene Confer Susceptibility to Ovarian Cancer

Cancer Research UK-funded scientists have discovered that women who carry a faulty copy of a gene called RAD51D have almost a 1-in-11 chance of developing ovarian cancer. The finding that inherited mutations in the RAD51D gene confer susceptibility to ovarian cancer was reported in a study published online in Nature Genetics on August 7, 2011.

Cancer Research UK-funded scientists have discovered that women who carry a faulty copy of the RAD51D gene have nearly a 1-in-11 chance of developing ovarian cancer. The finding that inherited mutations in the RAD51D gene confer susceptibility to ovarian cancer was reported in a study published online in Nature Genetics on August 7, 2011.

(Photo: Cancer Research UK)

Although hereditary faults in RAD51D are thought to account for less than one in every hundred ovarian cancer cases – fewer than 60 women every year in the UK – this discovery could prove very important in the future in connection with the prevention and treatment of the disease in women who carry the faulty gene.

The team at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) examined DNA from women from 911 families with ovarian and breast cancer and compared differences in DNA with a control group of 1,060 people from the general population.

The team discovered eight germline (inherited) gene faults in the RAD51D gene in women with cancer, compared with one in the control group.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women with approximately 6,500 cases diagnosed annually in the UK. The researchers estimate that RAD51D gene faults are present in almost one percent of women with ovarian cancer; that is, around 50 UK women each year.

Around one woman in 70 in the general population is at risk of developing ovarian cancer, but for those with a RAD51D gene fault this risk is increased to 1-in-11 – making these women six times more likely to develop the disease. The RAD51D gene fault also caused a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer.

The RAD51D gene is important for repairing damaged DNA. When the RAD51D gene is faulty, a key DNA repair pathway known as “homologous recombination” (HR) fails. This means DNA damage is not fixed and DNA faults build up in cells which make them more likely to turn into cancer.

The UK team also showed that cells with faulty RAD51D can be selectively destroyed by a relatively new class of cancer drugs called “PARP (poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase) inhibitors.” When the researchers tested the drugs on cells with the faulty RAD51D gene, they observed a dramatic effect – nearly 90 percent of the cells died, compared with just 10 percent of cells with fully functional RAD51D. These drugs are showing great promise in clinical trials for the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers with faults in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are also important for repairing damaged DNA.

Professor Nazneen Rahman

Cancer Research UK-funded scientist and study author Professor Nazneen Rahman, head of the Division of Genetics and Epidemiology at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden cancer center, said:

“Women with a fault in the RAD51D gene have a 1-in-11 chance of developing ovarian cancer. At this level of risk, women may wish to consider having their ovaries removed after having children, to prevent ovarian cancer from occurring. There is also real hope on the horizon that drugs specifically targeted to the gene will be available.”

Professor Nic Jones

Professor Nic Jones, Cancer Research UK’s chief scientist, said:

“It’s incredibly exciting to discover this high risk gene for ovarian cancer. It’s further evidence that a range of different high risk genes are causing the development of breast and ovarian cancer and we hope there are more waiting to be discovered in different cancers. We believe the results of this research will help inform personalized treatment approaches and give doctors better information about risks of cancer to tell patients.”

Harpal S. Kumar, CEO, Cancer Research UK

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said:

“Survival from ovarian cancer has almost doubled in the last 30 years. This landmark discovery is another piece of the jigsaw deepening our understanding of the disease. We hope this will have a significant impact in providing more personalised treatments for patients based on their genetic make-up, saving more lives from ovarian cancer. All of our research is generously funded by the public. This support has allowed us to invest heavily in the identification of DNA changes which paint a picture of which parts of a person’s gene set are linked to cancer. This life-changing discovery exemplifies the importance of this research and the importance of ongoing public support.”

Again, it is important to stress that faults in the RAD51D gene are rare, probably causing fewer than one in every 100 ovarian cancers. Yet for the small proportion of women who carry a faulty RAD51D gene, there is a chance of developing ovarian cancer, thereby making it a significant new finding.

Cancer Research UK is the largest single funder of ovarian cancer research in the UK – last year it spent more than £12 million of public donations on tackling the disease.

The RAD51D gene mutation study findings in relation to ovarian cancer susceptibility add to past evidence which links the gene to the disease. On April 21, 2010, Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ reported that a team of German researchers determined that RAD51C also increases a woman’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer.  Specifically, the identified risk for breast cancer in women with the RAD51C mutation was reported to be 60 percent to 80 percent, while the identified risk for ovarian cancer was 20 percent to 40 percent.

On November 11, 2010, we also reported that a separate group of U.K. researchers concluded that (i) HR-deficient status can be determined in primary ovarian cancer through a “RAD51 assay,” and (ii) such status correlates with in vitro response to PARP inhibition. Accordingly, the researchers concluded that potentially 50 percent to 60 percent of ovarian cancers patients could benefit from PARP inhibitors, but they noted that use of the RAD51 assay as a biomarker requires additional clinical trial testing. Although the RAD51 assay test that was used by these U.K. researchers to examine tumor samples in the laboratory is not yet suitable for routine clinical practice, the U.K. research team hopes to refine it for use in patients.

Sources:

About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
  • The charity’s groundbreaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives. This work is funded entirely by the public.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates double in the last forty years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to beat cancer.

For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020-7121-6699 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org

About The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)

  • The ICR is Europe’s leading cancer research center.
  • The ICR has been ranked the UK’s top academic research center, based on the results of the Higher Education Funding Council’s Research Assessment Exercise.
  • The ICR works closely with partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to ensure patients immediately benefit from new research. Together the two organisations form the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe.
  • The ICR has charitable status and relies on voluntary income.
  • As a college of the University of London, the ICR also provides postgraduate higher education of international distinction.

Over its 100-year history, the ICR’s achievements include identifying the potential link between smoking and lung cancer which was subsequently confirmed, discovering that DNA damage is the basic cause of cancer and isolating more cancer-related genes than any other organization in the world.

For more information visit www.icr.ac.uk

About The Royal Marsden

  • The Royal Marsden is a world-leading cancer centre specializing in cancer diagnosis, treatment, research and education.
  • The Royal Marsden is also partners with The Institute of Cancer Research. Through this partnership, it undertakes groundbreaking research into new cancer drug therapies and treatments. The partnership makes The Royal Marsden the biggest and most comprehensive cancer center in Europe, with a combined staff of 3,500.

2011 ASCO: Women with BRCA Gene Mutations Can Take Hormone-Replacement Therapy Safely After Ovary Removal

Women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, which are linked to a very high risk of breast and ovarian cancer, can safely take hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) to mitigate menopausal symptoms after surgical removal of their ovaries, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, which are linked to a very high risk of breast and ovarian cancer, can safely take hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) to mitigate menopausal symptoms after surgical removal of their ovaries, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania which will be presented on Monday, June 6 during the American Society for Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting. Results of the prospective study indicated that women with BRCA mutations who had their ovaries removed and took short-term HRT had a decrease in the risk of developing breast cancer.

Research has shown that in women who carry the BRCA gene mutations, the single most powerful risk-reduction strategy is to have their ovaries surgically removed by their mid-30s or early 40s. The decrease in cancer risk from ovary removal comes at the cost of early menopause and menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, mood swings, sleep disturbances and vaginal dryness — quality-of-life issues that may cause some women to delay or avoid the procedure.

Lead study author Susan M. Domchek, M.D., Associate Professor, Divison of Hematology-Oncology & Director, Cancer Risk Evaluation Program, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania

“Women with BRCA1/2 mutations should have their ovaries removed following child-bearing because this is the single best intervention to improve survival,” says lead author Susan M. Domchek, M.D., an associate professor in the division of Hematology-Oncology and director of the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center. “It is unfortunate to have women choose not to have this surgery because they are worried about menopausal symptoms and are told they can’t take HRT. Our data say that is not the case — these drugs do not increase their risk of breast cancer.”

Senior author Timothy R. Rebbeck, Ph.D., associate director of population science at the Abramson Cancer Center, notes that BRCA carriers may worry — based on other studies conducted in the general population showing a link between HRT and elevated cancer risk — that taking HRT may negate the effects of the surgery on their breast cancer risk. The message he hopes doctors will now give to women is clear: “If you need it, you can take short-term HRT. It doesn’t erase the effects of the oophorectomy.”

In the current study, Domchek, Rebbeck, and colleagues followed 795 women with BRCA1 mutations and 504 women with BRCA2 mutations who have not had cancer enrolled in the PROSE consortium database who underwent prophylactic oophorectomy, divided into groups of those who took HRT and those who did not. Women who underwent prophylactic oophorectomy had a lower risk of breast cancer than those who did not, with 14 percent of the women who took HRT after surgery developing breast cancer compared to 12 percent of the women who did not take HRT after surgery. The difference was not statistically significant.

Domchek says some of the confusion about the role of HRT in cancer risk elevation comes from the fact that the risks and benefits associated with HRT depend on the population of women studied. In this group of women — who have BRCA1/2 mutations and who have had their ovaries removed while they are quite young — HRT should be discussed and considered an option for treating menopausal symptoms. “People want to make hormone replacement therapy evil, so they can say ‘Don’t do it,'” she says. “But there isn’t one simple answer. The devil is in the details of the studies.”

By contrast, Penn researchers and their collaborators in the PROSE consortium have shown definitively that oophorectomy reduces ovarian and breast cancer incidence in these women, and reduces their mortality due to those cancers. But paying attention to the role that hormone depletion following preventive oophorectomy plays in women’s future health is also important.

“We know for sure that using HRT will mitigate menopausal symptoms, and we have pretty good evidence that it will help bone health,” she says. “Women need to be aware that going into very early menopause does increase their risk of bone problems and cardiovascular problems. And even if they aren’t going to take HRT, they need to be very attentive to monitoring for those issues. But they also need to know that HRT is an option for them and to discuss it with their doctors and other caregivers.”

About Penn Medicine

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4 billion enterprise. Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2010, Penn Medicine provided $788 million to benefit our community.

About the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine is currently ranked #2 in U.S. News & World Report’s survey of research-oriented medical schools and among the top 10 schools for primary care. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $507.6 million awarded in the 2010 fiscal year.

About the University of Pennsylvania Health System

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania — recognized as one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; and Pennsylvania Hospital – the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Penn Medicine also includes additional patient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region.

Sources: