Ovarian Cancer Awareness - Know the FactsLast updated: Sep 22, 2017
On October 14th, Summit Medical Group will be partnering with the Foundation for Women’s Cancer to offer a free course for gynecologic cancer survivors, family, friends and other supporters who are interested in learning more about the disease. The course director, Summit Medical Group’s Director of Gynecologic Oncology, Dr. Darlene Gibbon, recently spoke to us about risk reduction, advances in treatment and what attendees can expect to learn from the program.
Q&A WITH DARLENE GIBBON, MD
Q. What are proactive steps or lifestyle changes women can make to reduce their risk?
The most important thing a woman can do to reduce her ovarian cancer risk is to know the early signs and symptoms of the disease and seek the care of a gynecologist or primary care physician for further evaluation if her symptoms last for 3 weeks or more.
The use of oral contraceptives, mainly known for their prevention of pregnancy have also been proven to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Studies over a three-year period comparing women using oral contraceptives to women not using oral contraceptives, have shown a 30-50% lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. Someone who is considered high risk based on family history and genetics may consider fallopian tube and/or ovary removal.
Q. Are there any recent advances in treatment or research that patients should be aware of?
There have been many advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer. Doctors are now performing laparoscopic procedures to determine if a patient would benefit from chemotherapy prior to surgery guaranteeing better surgical outcomes with less complicated surgical procedures.
We are also now able to specially target treatment to mutations or changes in genes specific to an individual’s unique cancer. This enables us to use treatments that may not have previously been recommended or considered for someone with the diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
The most recent class of drugs that have shown to be effective in the treatment of ovarian cancer are PARP inhibitors. PARP inhibitors interfere with the function of proteins involved in the repair of DNA, causing cancer cells to die. These drugs are typically used in women who have recurrent ovarian cancer and is especially effective in women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.
Q. What can attendees learn from the Survivors Course?
The survivors course is geared toward helping women understand some of our newer therapies being utilized in the treatment of ovarian cancer. We hope to educate women on management skills that can alleviate some of the side effects they have experienced related to treatment. Additionally, women will learn the importance of clinical trial participation and its mission to advance the management of women with a gynecologic malignancy.
We see this course as a unique opportunity for women to gain access to some of the leading cancer experts in the United States, while benefiting from the support of women in similar situations throughout New Jersey and the tri-state area.