The NormaLeah Foundation has done some of its own research to provide you with pertinent information as it relates to ovarian cancer.
The National Cancer Institute reports that more than $4.9 billion was spent on cancer research in 2009. Of that amount, $110 million – a mere 2% -- was spent on ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, one of the most difficult to detect, and has a five-year survival rate of only 20%. So why is it also the most drastically under-funded?
It's because we haven't made enough noise with regards to this disease!
(According to the National Cancer Institute)
|# with a history of the disease (1/1/2008)
|# diagnosed with the disease (2010)
|# who will die of the disease (2010)
|% of those diagnosed who will die (2010)
|5 year survival rate
|Research funding (2009)
|Funding per new case
|Funding per death
|Google Search results
By comparing the statistics between ovarian and breast cancer, it is evident that efforts to prevent and cure ovarian cancer lag far behind breast cancer in terms of survival, funding, and awareness. Breast cancer has made tremendous strides during the past 30 years while ovarian cancer mortality rates have not shown any noticeable decline. One of the reasons may be that research funding for ovarian cancer is only 18% of the amount spent for breast cancer.
Nevertheless, the research being conducted today in the field of ovarian cancer is encouraging. Our intent on this website is to provide an overview of research efforts along with links to more in-depth articles on the findings.
Scientists are closely examining genes, particularly those responsible for familial ovarian cancer. This research is yielding clues about how these genes normally work and how their attributes can lead to cancer. Eventually this information should lead to new drugs aimed at preventing and treating familial ovarian cancer. Research in this area has already led to better ways to detect high-risk genes and assess a woman's ovarian cancer risk.
Research on BRCA gene mutations is helping women make practical decisions about prevention. However, a lawsuit concerning the patent rights to the BRCA gene may be heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Other studies are testing new drugs aimed at ovarian cancer risk reduction, and researchers are constantly looking for clues such as lifestyle, diet, and medicines that may alter the risk of ovarian cancer.
Accurate methods for early detection of ovarian cancer could have a great impact on the survival rate. It has been 30 years since the CA-125 test was developed -- a test that is often unreliable because it can produce false-positive readings and may not detect increased protein levels during the early stages of the disease. Unfortunately, a more accurate method of early detection has not yet been discovered.
Researchers continue to test new ways to screen women for ovarian cancer. A national repository for blood and tissue samples from ovarian cancer patients is being established to aid in these studies. Scientists are also looking at the pattern of proteins in the blood (called proteomics), particularly the HE4 protein, since women with ovarian cancer have increased levels of this protein.
A few years ago, studies that were conducted in the United States and the United Kingdom discovered that using the CA-125 blood test and trans-vaginal ultrasound in combination had an increased effectiveness over using either screening method alone. However, more recent studies suggest that this method may not be beneficial in reducing ovarian cancer death rates.
Two years ago, research aimed at measuring the levels of 4 proteins in the blood led to the development of the OVA1 test. The test is now being used in women who have an ovarian tumor to help categorize their cancer risk as either low or high. It is NOT a screening test - it is only meant for use in women who have an ovarian tumor.
Treatment research also includes testing the value of currently available methods as well as developing new approaches to treatment. New chemotherapy combinations are constantly being investigated. Studies are also looking at using targeted therapy drugs to fight ovarian cancer. Clinical trials are in progress to determine how PARP inhibitor drugs can improve outcomes for ovarian cancers that develop in women without BRCA mutations.
Tumor vaccines that essentially "program" the immune system to better recognize cancer cells are also being studied. Monoclonal antibodies like Farletuzumab and Catumaxomab which recognize and attack ovarian cancer cells, are also being developed.
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