OVCARE’s mission is to enhance ovarian cancer research in British Columbia with the goal of improving health outcomes for women facing this disease. OVCARE’s collaborative team approach has enabled the group to make major medical and scientific discoveries related to the understanding and management of ovarian cancer.

Here are some recent OVCARE discoveries:

Tackling Ovarian Cancer, “One Histotype At a Time”.  In 2008, the OVCARE team announced an important discovery showing that ovarian cancer is not a single disease but is made up of a spectrum of distinct diseases. “Until now,” says OVCARE team leader, Dr. David Huntsman, “ovarian cancer has been treated as a single disease in both the cancer clinic and the research lab.  We have shown that progress depends on both clinically managing and researching these histotypes as distinct diseases."  Click to read more >


Found: One in Three Billion. The spelling mistake in the genetic code that causes a type of Ovarian Cancer. OVCARE researchers discover a single spelling mistake in the genetic code of granulosa cell tumours, a rare and often untreatable form of ovarian cancer. This means that out of the three billion nucleotide pairs that make up the genetic code of the tumour, one - the same one in every tumour sample – is incorrect.  For women with granulosa cell tumours it represents the first specific diagnostic tool and clear path to develop much needed treatments.   Click to read more >


New Ovarian Cancer Gene: A Connection Between Cancer and Endometriosis. OVCARE reveals a major new cancer gene – ARID1A. Mutations are frequent in this gene and link two types of ovarian cancer to endometriosis. The ARID1A mutations were found in 46% of ovarian clear cell carcinomas and in 30% of endometrioid carcinomas. OVCARE’s discovery of the dominant mutation in clear cell ovarian cancer raises hope for much needed treatments for this little understood cancer type. Click to read more >


Patients with Ovarian Clear Cell Carcinoma May Benefit from Lower Abdominal Radiation Therapy.  OVCARE medical oncologists, Drs Paul Hoskins and Ken Swenerton, recently published the British Columbia experience – data collected through OVCARE’s population-based database, the Cheryl Brown Ovarian Cancer Outcomes Unit (link), showed that a subset of women with clear cell carcinoma of the ovary may benefit from lower whole abdominal radiotherapy. Click to read more. (PMID: 22493415)


First Useful Therapeutic Target in Mucinous Carcinomas of the Ovary. OVCARE gynecologic-oncologists, Drs. Jessica McAlpine and Dianne Miller, identify the first useful therapeutic target (HER2) in mucinous carcinomas of the ovary and the potential for trastuzumab therapy in this rare histologic type of ovarian cancer.   In a follow-up study, Dr. McAlpine and her team identify three molecular subtypes of mucinous cancers raising the possibility of stratified treatment strategies.  Click to read more >


Gene Links Rare and Unrelated Cancers. Drs. David Huntsman and Gregg Morin link rare, unrelated cancers (ovarian, uterine and testicular tumours) to a single genetic mutation in DICER1.  The discovery shows that the mutations change the function of DICER so that it participates directly in the initiation of cancer.  This breakthrough is particularly pivotal because it could lead to solutions for treatment of more common cancers.  The team was amazed to discover the same fundamental mutation in the different cancers. Click to read more >


Genetic Clues May Lead to New Vaccines for Ovarian Cancer. Dr. Brad Nelson, OVCARE researcher and Director of BCCA's Deeley Research Centre, and Dr. Rob Holt of the BC Genome Sciences Centre, proved for the very first time that the most common ovarian cancer type arise from multiple clones in the primary tumour, with very few new mutations in recurrent tumours. The stability of the disease offers hope of developing personalized vaccines given after standard treatments to prevent recurrence of the disease. Click to read more >


Change in Referral Strategies for Genetic Hereditary Testing.  Recent research by OVCARE shows that with proper pathologic review and histotyping of ovarian cancers, close to 50% of high grade serous cancers harbour BRCA1/2 genetic abnormalities.  Our guideline recommends that pathology reports with a diagnosis of high grade serous cancer of the ovary/fallopian tube/peritoneum have reflex recommendations for consideration of hereditary testing for BRCA1/2 mutations. Click to read more >


In many cases, these contributions have already led to changes in clinical practice in British Columbia. The international repute of BC’s OVCARE team has ensured that the positive impact of these changes is felt immediately throughout British Columbia, while also being emulated in other jurisdictions worldwide.

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