CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Ovarian cancer has been called the silent killer, because symptoms are often so subtle women don’t know they have it until the cancer is in a late, hard-to-treat stage. Researchers across the country are enrolling women in a new trial that’s focusing on preventing the disease and some of the potential side effects.
Karen Ingalls was enjoying retirement in Florida with her husband one day … the next, she was fighting for her life! Nine years ago, doctors found a tumor in her abdomen the size of a melon.
“I had to start thinking about what I wanted to do and what God wanted me to do with whatever time I had left,” explained Ingalls.
Eleven hundred miles north, researchers at the University of Chicago are working on a new treatment option; enrolling women in the WISP trial, women choosing surgical prevention.
“It’s a trial meant for people who are at quite elevated risk for ovarian cancer because they’ve been identified to carry a mutation in a gene,” Iris Romero, MD, OB/GYN, an Associate Professor at University of Chicago explained. (Read Full Interview)
For years, doctors have recommended young women at high risk have both their fallopian tubes and ovaries removed. It greatly lowers the risk of cancer, but causes early menopause. Half of the women enrolled will have the traditional surgery. The other half will have two surgeries, removing just their fallopian tubes first. New research suggests that is the point where ovarian cancer actually begins.
Dr. Romero continued, “So in the WISP trial where a patient chooses to take a two-step procedure she may delay the onset of menopause by several years until she comes back to get her ovaries out.”
Dr. Romero says the goal is to determine if women have less sexual dysfunction and a better quality of life by staggering the surgeries. In the meantime, survivors like Karen Ingalls continue to advocate for ovarian cancer education and support.
“I am encouraged and I think we are on the right road,” said Dr. Romero.
Karen Ingalls was treated with surgery and chemo, and has had two cancer recurrences, but is currently in remission. Dr. Romero says she and other researchers ultimately want to know if removing just the fallopian tubes will be enough to protect against ovarian cancer.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.
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TOPIC: WISP TRIAL FOR OVARIAN CANCER
REPORT: MB #4368
BACKGROUND: Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries and often goes undetected until it has spread to the abdomen and pelvis. At this later stage, it is more difficult to treat and frequently fatal. Early-stage ovarian cancer where the disease is confined to the ovary is more likely to be treated successfully. Symptoms in the early stage rarely occur, but advanced stages may cause few and nonspecific symptoms that can be often mistaken for common conditions such as constipation or irritable bowel. Signs and symptoms may include; quickly feeling full when eating, weight loss, discomfort of the pelvis area, changes in bowel habits, a frequent need to urinate, and abdominal bloating or swelling.
TREATMENT: There are many factors that can influence the course of ovarian cancer treatment; for instance the progression of the disease, what type of cells are affected, the patients overall health and treatment preferences, etc. Plans may include a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Surgical procedures may include removing one or both of the ovaries and adjoining fallopian tubes; removing the uterus, cervix, and upper portion of the vagina; removing affected nodes in the pelvic area; removing the tissue that covers the stomach and large intestine; or surgery to safely remove as much of the tumor and affected surrounding tissue as possible.
NEW STUDY: A Stand Up to Cancer funded clinical trial is being conducted specifically for individuals who carry genetic mutations that elevate their risk of getting ovarian cancer. The trial, WISP, stands for “Women choosIng Surgical Prevention.” The standard practice for preventing ovarian cancer in high-risk women is to take out the fallopian tubes and the ovaries at the same time, which has been proven to prevent ovarian cancer; however, this may cause the patient to go into menopause immediately on the day of surgery which can affect their long-term quality of life if they have this surgery at a young age. In WISP, some patients take a two-step procedure and possibly delay the onset of menopause by several years by having first their fallopian tubes removed, then returning to get their ovaries out. The trial is open at multiple sites across the country, and follows both women who have the one-step procedure as well as the two-step to compare and understand what affects there are on menopause, sexual function, etc. In addition to the Chicago site, the WISP trial is being conducted at five other major U.S. cancer centers. Those include: MD Anderson, Houston; University of Washington, Seattle; Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota; Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston; Memorial Sloan Kettering Center, New York)
(Source: Iris Romero, MD)
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