Providing Hope: Increasing Long-Term Survivorship of Ovarian Cancer Patients

Posted October 14, 2016
Malcolm Pike, Ph.D., Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital.

Malcolm Pike, Ph.D., Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Malcolm Pike, Ph.D., Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
By permission of Dr. Malcom Pike.

Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital

Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital
By permission of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer today face a difficult reality: with an overall 5-year survival rate of just 45%¹, ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest types of gynecologic cancers. Yet amid the uncertainty and apprehension of diagnosis, there is hope. To improve the prognosis for those with ovarian cancer, the Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OCRP) offered the Outcomes Consortium Development Award in FY12 to lay the groundwork for a new, multi-institutional research effort to identify and understand specific predictors of disease outcomes in ovarian cancer patients. A subset of patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer become long-term survivors (over 10 years survival from their date of diagnosis); the consortium was aimed at building teams of talented researchers who would work to discover what differentiates these patients from the others. In FY15 the OCRP offered the Outcomes Consortium Award as the second stage of this effort with the goal of advancing the consortia from the development phase to the research phase. Two teams, one led by Dr. Malcom Pike and the other by Dr. Michael Birrer, were chosen to receive the FY15 Outcomes Consortium Award, to support their efforts to identify predictors of long-term survival and to enable physicians to tailor therapies to individual patients, increasing survival and quality of life.

The Multidisciplinary Ovarian Cancer Outcomes Group (MOCOG), led by Dr. Pike at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, is working with patients with advanced-stage high-grade serous cancer which accounts for over 80% of ovarian cancer deaths. They will investigate the role of the patients' immune response; their genetics, especially those related to DNA repair; and epidemiological and lifestyle factors that contribute to long-term survival. The MOCOG is a collaboration of 10 international sites that will leverage samples, data, and techniques to search out novel immune therapy approaches to ovarian cancer treatment and the patients who would benefit from these targeted immune therapies.

The Ovarian Cancer Consortium for Long-Term Survival, led by Dr. Birrer at Massachusetts General Hospital, focuses on finding predictive biomarkers that will aid in the design of individualized care for ovarian cancer patients. With the majority of ovarian cancer patients succumbing to this progressively chemo-resistant disease, this international consortium comprised of nine sites will work to determine the characteristics of long term survivorship by investigating both patients and their tumors. They will gather genomic, proteomic, and biologic data, as well as environmental and quality of life data, to identify novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers for the early detection of ovarian cancer and to develop and identify tailored therapies for those patients.

The highly focused studies and combined efforts of the world's leading investigators in these consortia will have a major impact on understanding the predictors of outcomes in ovarian cancer that will ultimately and significantly accelerate progress toward long term survivorship. Their efforts are integral to OCRP's mission to support patient-centered research to prevent, detect, treat, and cure ovarian cancer. Research supported by the OCRP continues to provide hope that one day all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will become long-term survivors.

¹American Cancer Society, 02/04/2016

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Last updated Thursday, May 26, 2022