GU cancer

Ovarian cancer action plan calls for more research into diagnosis and treatment


A new National Action Plan for ovarian cancer is calling for a boost in trials of early diagnosis and better treatment options for women with the disease.

The Ovarian Cancer National Action Plan (NAP) 2020 – 2025 has been launched by the Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG) in conjunction with Ovarian Cancer Australia and the Australian Society of Gynaecologic Oncologists (ASGO).

In its roadmap for action, the plan calls for the establishment of an Ovarian Cancer Alliance to promote sector-wide collaboration and engagement. It also calls for investment in national tissue collection and biobanking, and support for translational research.

And among its five priority areas for action, the plans calls for improvement in early diagnosis through access to better diagnostic tests, and strengthening of clinical trials.

“Novel and existing molecular and tumour-specific targeted therapies need to be progressed as rapidly as possible through clinical development and made available to patients,” the plan states.

It says there is a need for greater collaboration between laboratory researchers and clinicians on “signal-seeking studies” to identify targeted new and repurposed drug therapies and molecular subtypes of ovarian cancer.

“Where the focus used to be on large Phase 3 clinical trials, where all ovarian cancer patients were included, it is now known that a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work with ovarian cancer as there are so many histological and molecular subtypes ,” it notes.

The plan also calls for improved targeted and optimal treatment pathways.

“In the last five years, the treatment landscape for ovarian cancer has changed significantly. There has been an increase in the options for delivery of standard treatment, for example, through neoadjuvant, dose-dense or hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy.

“There have also been significant advances in individualised treatments, for example using PARP inhibitors for treating patients with an identified gene fault, and molecular profiling leading to more people trialling newer targeted immunotherapies.”

It therefore calls for actions including:

  • Molecular profiling of tumours at diagnosis and at relapse to guide treatment choices
  • Research the potential role of immunotherapy for both recurrent and first-line treatment
  • Monitor outcomes and benefits of the Ovarian Cancer Australia national case management program
  • Prospective tissue and blood collection from women undergoing surgery to bank tissue for optimising individual treatment and potentially use in broader research
  • Ensure every woman has access to appropriate surgery and platinum-based chemotherapy
  • Continue to develop and facilitate optimal psychosocial support and palliative care pathways of care

The new ovarian cancer national action plan builds on the previous five year plan. It notes that while survival has improved to around 46% at five years, there is a still a long way to go.

“In comparison to other, well-funded tumour streams in Australia, there is still an enormous amount of work to be done to improve survival statistics,” it states.

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