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Last Updated: 10/10/18

Ovarian SPOREs

Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynecological cancer in women, but ranks first (above endometrial cancer) in cancer deaths. Approximately 22,280 new ovarian cancers will be diagnosed in the United States in 2016 and about 14,240 women will die from this disease. Recent large clinical studies of various chemotherapy regimens for ovarian cancer showed little to no increase in progression free survival and no improvement in overall survival. Diagnosis is difficult due to an overall lack of early symptoms or screening methods for the disease. Thus patients present at advanced tumor stage with aggressive ovarian cancer and vigorous tumor-induced immune suppression. Most patients who respond to surgery and chemotherapy relapse. Women with a family history of either breast, ovarian, or non-polyposis colon cancer are at an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer.

The Ovarian Cancer SPORE program was initiated in 1999 and in 2016 has two Ovarian SPOREs. Research areas cover a wide scope including early detection, imaging technologies, risk assessment, immunosuppression and novel therapeutic approaches. Translational projects explore cellular and molecular signaling pathways including DII4-Notch, MEK inhibition, PI3K and BRCA1/2, leading to personalized therapies. This includes developing additional therapies to reverse resistance to chemotherapy agents such as platinum. An expanding area of research is in harnessing the immune system for specific targeting of cancer cells including immunotherapy, vaccine therapy, oncolytic viruses, and enhancing tumor immunity. By collaborating the ovarian SPORE researchers share expertise, ideas and help with clinical accrual of patients.