The importance of ovarian cancer research
This year 15,000 women will die from ovarian cancer, while 22,000 are diagnosed, says HealthMaker Audra Moran, CEO, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. In this video, she discusses why ovarian cancer isn't as treatable as other cancers.
[MUSIC PLAYING] Unfortunately, we're probably a very long way off from a cure. But what we would look towards is prevention,
and knowing your risk, and being able to take action, and do something about that. But research takes time.
Every year, ovarian cancer affects 22,000 women. The issue with ovarian cancer is that it's not
as treatable as some of the other cancers, and it's very deadly. It's actually the deadliest of the gynecologic cancers. Over 15,000 women will die from the disease,
though 22,000 are diagnosed. The cutting edge research right now is looking at better treatments. I think it's focusing on that.
And they're certainly looking for methods of early detection. They're trying to focus on that, but they're also looking at better treatments because they
want to help women now. And to do that, the treatments really need to improve. A lot of times when a woman has ovarian cancer,
she has a chemotherapy treatment. There's a high rate of recurrence, and so the next time she takes a treatment of the same chemotherapy, often it doesn't work as well.
So a lot of the focus has been on trying to develop another treatment, another line of treatment. They're looking at immunotherapy, obviously,
using a woman's own immune system and what they can do to stimulate that, to fight the cancer. So that's another big area.
Genetics has become very, very important, because despite having identified the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, that's only a small percentage of women
that do develop ovarian. So there's still a large unknown. Almost 90% of the people that develop ovarian, they're not certain why.
This is not to spread fear, but it almost becomes every woman's disease because almost 90% of the cases are unknown genetically.
It's hard to determine. So that's why just kind of being attentive to your body and also knowing whether you have a history in your family.
We've spoken to so many people that don't know. They'll often say, well, my grandmother died of cancer, but I'm not really sure what kind of cancer that is.
And that's really important for women to really understand their family history. A really significant recent finding that took place up in one of the Harvard hospitals, actually,
was that we do believe that forms of ovarian cancer may be originating in the Fallopian tube. And if that's the case, that would
explain why it's so hard to detect, because it's actually starting somewhere else and then migrating to the ovaries. So by the point it reaches the ovaries,
and then symptoms might actually be sensed, that's because it's actually starting somewhere else. And if that's the case and there were a way
that we could target the Fallopian tube, that would be really significant. So that's a recent finding that I think is going to have long-term implications.
For the immediate, short-term treatment would be, I think, the main focus. But the long-term goal would be prevention. In prevention, I would include genetics.
So obviously knowing if there is a genetic component beyond the BRCA1 and BRCA2, there probably likely
is in many cases, but we just don't know it yet. And if women could be genetically screened, then know their risk and then take preventive measures,
that would be something that we would be aiming for in the near term. We very much hope that there will be a cure. We very, very much hope that, especially now when
it's so uncertain. If there is one kind of ovarian cancer, there are several kinds, and where it originates, and all of these questions are so unknown.
I believe, someday, yes, there will be. But I think they have to know all these other answers, and it's a long way off.
So that's why we just-- we can't stop. Research is so incremental and so important to build upon itself. [AUDIO LOGO]
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