Our ovarian cancer researchers aim to:
Cancer of the ovary arises from cells that develop changes that enable uncontrolled growth.
The normal function of the ovary is to enable female reproduction by producing egg cells (ova) and female hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone.
Ovarian cancers are classified by the type of cells they originate from:
Ninety per cent of ovarian cancers are epithelial ovarian cancer.
Around 15 per cent of ovarian cancers cases in Australia are hereditary. This means they are associated with inheriting a change in an ovarian cancer susceptibility gene, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, which also places the woman at an elevated risk of breast cancer. Other women in her family may be at increased risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
Epithelial ovarian cancer starts to become more common in women over the age of 50.
Epithelial ovarian cancer is usually diagnosed after it has spread beyond the ovary or fallopian tube (metastasised). Most patients with epithelial ovarian cancers are treated with surgery, to remove tumour masses, and chemotherapy to kill remaining cancer cells.
Unlike many other cancers, survival rates for epithelial ovarian cancer have seen little improvement in the past 30 years. Only 45 per cent of patients will be alive five years after their diagnosis.
Stromal ovarian cancer and germ cell ovarian cancer tend to have better responses to chemotherapy.
WEHI researchers are not able to provide specific medical advice specific to individuals. If you have cancer and wish to find out more information about clinical trials, please visit the Australian Cancer Trials or the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, or consult your medical specialist.