Dr. Jessica McAlpine
Gynecologic Oncologist and Translational Researcher; Director, OVCARE Gynaecologic Tissue Bank

Blog Posts by Dr. Jessica McAlpine

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 blog posts

Research leads to increased options for cancer treatment

In my previous post I shared how we have learned so much about endometrial cancer by analyzing the molecular features of the tumours. Recently, we have been really excited in showing that these molecular features can be determined on endometrial samples, and do not require analysis of the whole uterine specimen, such as from a hysterectomy. Most women diagnosed with endometrial cancer have some sort of spotting or irregular bleeding alerting them that something is wrong. Then in their doctor’s office, or in a simple surgical procedure, a sample of the endometrial lining is obtained. This...

Most common gynecologic cancer gets boost

It is a pleasure to be able to contribute to the BC Cancer Foundation blog again! Since I last blogged almost a year ago, we have gained further insight on the behavior of different endometrial cancers, and I had the pleasure of joining another Ride to Conquer Cancer last summer, in somewhat epic conditions. Tales of adventure on the latter are for another day. But I would like to share some of our research team’s progress in endometrial cancer. First, thanks to an incredibly generous donation by a family who was impacted by endometrial cancer we have been able to complete biologic analysis...

Ovarian Cancer Research: Three Major Milestones and a Look at the Future

Today, I’d like to share three major things that B.C.’s OVCARE team has contributed in the last decade: 1) TAKING STEPS TOWARD PERSONALIZED MEDICINE: A woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer today will be managed according to the SPECIFIC type of cancer she has. This may mean she can be spared toxic therapies that may not help her, or receive better therapies with higher success. (Message: Just because many cancers grow in the ovary(ies) does not mean it is one disease…they are distinct). 2) PREVENTION in women at HIGH RISK: The SPECIFIC subtype can also be a flag for inherited or familial...

Ovarian Cancer: Five Distinct Diseases with Unique Characteristics

In this final week of May, I’d like to shift away from endometrial cancer and share some ovarian cancer team discoveries from OVCARE. Thanks to the work of my colleagues Drs. Blake Gilks, Martin Kobel, David Huntsman and others—work that was done before I joined the BC Cancer Agency—we learned that epithelial ovarian cancer is not one disease but actually five distinct subtypes. Each subtype has a very different clinical course, can require different surgeries, respond differently to therapy, and have different sites of origin. Dr. Huntsman’s team can claim three major gene discoveries (and a...

Philanthropy and Research: How Donors are Making a Difference

In my last two blog posts, I wrote about progress we’ve been making to improve outcomes for women facing endometrial cancer. Today, I’d like to tell you about the impact one family has had in supporting this research. After losing their mother to endometrial cancer, the Gill family wanted to make a difference. They approached the BC Cancer Foundation and talked about supporting research specific to this disease - I was lucky enough to have my proposal chosen as the focus of their incredibly generous support. In the two years since receiving the donation for endometrial cancer research through...

Treating Endometrial Cancer in Young Women

We know that around 15% of endometrial cancers occur in women less than 50 years of age, and 5% in women less than 40. These women may not yet have had a family and likely have not entered menopause. Thus they may not be ready to have their uterus and ovaries removed, which is the usual surgical step when endometrial cancer is diagnosed. It is very challenging to advise these women as to what to do . . . balancing our desire to support them in having children but also worrying that they cancer could spread and put their life at risk. We identified that in addition to women with inherited...

Endometrial Cancer: How Molecular Testing Can Improve Treatment Strategies for Women

Hello again and thanks for tuning in! Today I am going to share some recent work we have been doing in endometrial cancer or cancer of the ‘womb.’ This is the most common cancer in women in the developed world yet it is surprisingly understudied. More than any other cancer I treat there is profound inconsistency in how pathologists, surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists manage this disease across the globe. Although most women with endometrial cancer do very well and can be cured with surgery alone, many women with ‘bad’ types of endometrial cancer or recurrence will die from this...

Bench to Bedside: How Research Discoveries are Leading to Solutions for Gynecologic Cancers

A nice thing about being junior in your career is that sometimes if you work hard, think a bit, and play well with others, people can give you the benefit of the doubt in believing you might be able to achieve something. My first years at the BC Cancer Agency were like this; I came here with relatively rudimentary research experience, no protected research time in my new position per say, but with an incredibly supportive team of colleagues who fostered ideas, provided resources and wanted me to succeed. I now am able to split my time evenly between clinical/surgical work and translational...

Dr. Jessica McAlpine: My Journey to a Career in Ovarian Cancer Research

Thanks for the invitation to be part of this blog and to share research discoveries from the Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OVCARE) . I am a local girl: I was born in Vancouver (at Vancouver General Hospital) and both my parents and both sets of grandparents have lived in Vancouver for most of their lives. I did my undergraduate training here in B.C. but spent over a decade in the US for medical school, residency and Fellowship (with some fun travel and international work scattered in between). I rotated at the BC Cancer Agency when I was a Fellow and was lucky enough to be offered a...