ANOTHER DOOR OPENS....
After 36 years of research involving 200,000 women in the world’s largest ever clinical trial, a team of UK and US researchers who were out to prove that early detection of ovarian cancer saves lives, have been left ‘devastated and sad’ with final trial results released last month that show screening methods for ovarian cancer do not improve survival rates.
This is a result that none of us expected or hoped. As a gynaecological cancer surgeon and fellow researcher, I share the research teams’ disappointment. However, it is a timely reminder that while research doesn’t always give us the results we work hard for, it is never futile.
A lot has been learned from the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening trial that will help shape ovarian cancer research projects in the future including the need to develop screening tests that can pick up cancers five or more years earlier than current screening tools like CA125. You can read more about the outcomes of the trial in a recent edition of The Conversation here.
Where one door closes another door opens. There are some exciting advances in protein technologies relating to ovarian and other gynaecological cancers, that give us hope. In fact, I am collaborating with a University of Queensland colleague, Associate Professor Carlos Salomon Gallo who is involved in exciting research looking at exosomes as an early detection biomarker for ovarian cancer.
Exosomes are small bubbles produced by cells, that are like handwritten letters in which cancer cells can send signals to normal cells to spread the tumour. The goal is to use these exosomes as ‘liquid biopsies’, enabling early detection of the disease without needing more invasive procedures.
In addition to his work on ovarian cancer, Assoc Prof Salomon Gallo is working with me on the feMMe Molecular trial using similar technology to predict which women with endometrial cancer can safely receive hormone therapy rather than be subjected to the more invasive hysterectomy (current standard treatment).
We are very excited with preliminary data that has already been gathered as part of the feMMe Molecular study. We have submitted a number of large grant applications to kick-start the trial in earnest – we won’t know the outcome of these applications until closer to the end of the year.
CAN YOU HELP?
Together we can make a real and meaningful difference.
If you would like to help 'Cherish' continue to fund important research trials like feMMe you can donate here or through the Larapinta Trekking page I set up on GiveNow (all donations go to Cherish Women’s Cancer).
I am giving a copy of the book The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin, to the highest individual donor between now and the day I set off on my trek. This book comes highly recommended by a Cherish supporter who has trekked the Larapinta Trail. She read it before departing and said it provided her with a greater understanding of Indigenous Australian culture and heightened the spiritual experience of travelling through the outback. On publication it went straight to No.1 on the Sunday Times best seller list and and stayed in the top ten for nine months.
My sincere thanks to everyone that has already donated to the trek fundraising campaign in support of Cherish Women's Cancer Foundation.
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Prof Andreas Obermair