fbpx PixelServer

Ovarian Cancer

Dr. Anna Tinker - Ovarian Cancer Research, BC Cancer
For more information, contact:

Becky Yost
Director, Development

BC Cancer is Aiming to Reduce Ovarian Cancer Incidence by 50% in 20 Years  

More than 300 women will be diagnosed with a form of ovarian cancer this year in B.C. Unfortunately, seven in 10 will die within five years of diagnosis. With few early symptoms — many which mimic other less serious issues — ovarian cancers are often diagnosed in advanced stages when treatment is less likely to result in a cure.

BC Cancer’s multi-institutional and multidisciplinary ovarian research group OVCARE is determined to improve outcomes for individuals and their families facing this disease.

Founded in 2000, the OVCARE team has grown from a small group of researchers with many individual research projects to a cohesive team that has changed the global understanding of ovarian cancers. Fuelling their passion is their united belief that most types of ovarian cancers share one crucial feature: they are potentially preventable.

World-leading Research and Ovarian Cancer Prevention Strategy

OVCARE’s discovery that ovarian cancer is multiple distinct diseases (with different sites of origin and different presentations that require varying treatment approaches) led Dr. Dianne Miller to develop the first ovarian cancer prevention surgery: opportunistic salpingectomy (OS).

Armed with the knowledge that most ovarian cancers originate in the fallopian tubes, Dr. Miller determined that removing them, during other pelvic or abdominal procedures, eliminates the tissues where most ovarian cancers start.

In 2022, the OVCARE team received international recognition for pioneering a major breakthrough in ovarian cancer prevention and OS is now used worldwide as an effective prevention strategy. OVCARE’s mission now is to increase access and uptake of OS, during routine surgeries such as a hysterectomy, through patient and physician educational outreach programs.

Developing More Effective, Less Toxic Treatments

Recruited in 2021 thanks to BC Cancer Foundation support, Dr. Yvette Drew launched a new clinical trial, NEOCATS (Neoadjuvant Olaparib Combination Ovarian Cancer Targeted Study) which is testing a new combination drug treatment that deviates from the current standard of care which is chemotherapy.

A popular dietary supplement may have a role to play in treating a rare ovarian cancer that mostly impacts individuals in 20s — thanks to a study co-led by BC Cancer’s Dr. Yemin Wang exploring alanine as a potential ovarian cancer treatment. The next step is exploring tolerance levels of high doses of alanine in clinical trials.

Advancing Innovation in Inherited Ovarian Cancer  

With a clear hereditary link to ovarian cancer, OVCARE and BC Cancer’s Hereditary Cancer Program are working together to innovate and increase access to genetic testing for individuals at high risk. For first-degree relatives of women with ovarian cancer the wait time for testing has decreased from more than 18 months to three months.

A transformative three-year project, led by Drs. Lesa Dawson, Kasmintan Schrader and Sophie Sun, will enable BC Cancer to further expedite care for individuals awaiting testing who have one or more direct relatives with ovarian cancer. The project is also looking at the feasibility of population-based testing and  methods to reach underserved communities.

A newly hired genetic counsellor and plans to relocate all hereditary cancer clinical resources in one convenient location is providing increased support. As a result, more than 250 people have been identified and given the tools to evaluate their increased risk and prevention options.

The Diamond Foundation’s generous gift to the Hereditary Cancer Program is improving identification of people with BRCA1/2 gene mutations that put them at higher risk of ovarian cancers — specifically in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, who are 10 times more likely to carry BRCA gene mutations.

“Thanks to new initiatives to accelerate identification of patients and enhance our ability to provide follow-up support and care, we are on the path towards transforming hereditary cancer care across B.C.” – Dr. Kasmintan Schrader.