In the past six years, scientific discoveries have fundamentally changed people’s understanding of ovarian cancer and propelled researchers and clinicians in new directions in their quest to overcome Canada’s most fatal women’s cancer.
The paradigm shift is so profound that Dr. Laurie Elit, a gynecologic oncologist and health services researcher at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton, envisions the day when progress with ovarian cancer mirrors success in the fight against cervical cancer.
“In the past with cervix cancer, we were seeing people with advanced disease, and now progress has been made, not only through screening but in vaccination for prevention. We see less and less cervix cancer and hopefully one day, we will see almost none,” said Elit, head of the division of gynecologic oncology at McMaster University and a member of the board of directors of Ovarian Cancer Canada.
“That’s the dream for ovarian cancer – to get to the point where we no longer are focusing on treatment for late-stage disease because of advances in prevention and screening. Hopefully one day, we will not see the disease at all. Things are evolving so quickly, anything is possible.”
Ovarian cancer has always been difficult to diagnose and treat. There is no screening test and only 45 per cent of all women diagnosed with the disease are likely to survive five years compared to 89 per cent of women with breast cancer. When ovarian cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage, five-year survival is only about 30 per cent.
Elit predicts a range of Stage 3 clinical trials now underway around the world will produce findings in the next three to five years that result in big changes to the way patients with ovarian cancer are treated.
Ovarian Cancer Canada is the only national charity dedicated solely to overcoming ovarian cancer. Its annual Walk of Hope takes place across the province on Sept. 7.
The Hamilton walk is scheduled for Valley Park, 970 Paramount Dr., with 2.5 or five kilometre routes and a 5K fun run option. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. with the walk at 11 a.m. Contact walk co-chair Stephanie Carty-Kegel with any questions at Stephanie.firstname.lastname@example.org. To register, or to pledge a walker, click here or call toll-free 1-877-413-7970.
During this year’s event, Hamiltonian Helen Martin will receive the Ovarian Cancer Canada Peggy Truscott Award of Hope. Martin, a dedicated volunteer who was diagnosed with Stage 3c ovarian cancer in 2005 and had recurrences in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Since 2007, Martin has conducted 141 activities on behalf of the charity,