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Ovarian Cancer Innovative Research
Each year, approximately 23,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While it is the 2nd most common gynecologic cancer, ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all women cancers. It typically presents with advanced stage disease and diagnosis is challenging, as the ovaries are internal organs and patients have nonspecific symptoms. Although 10% of ovarian cancer is hereditary, the remaining 90% is unknown.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are non-specific, including abdominal bloating and/or pain, pelvic discomfort, and bladder symptoms. Given that many of these symptoms are non-specific, and that ovarian cancer is relatively uncommon, a diagnosis can be challenging. In most instances, by the time a patient presents to the doctor, the cancer is already in late stages. Nevertheless, patients have these recurring, and nonspecific symptoms that persist. It is important to address these concerns with their physicians.

When examining race and ovarian cancer, the biology of the cancer is not significantly different among different races. However, data show that Black patients present with more advanced cancers and have a poorer prognosis due to limitations in access to subspecialty care. Indeed, patients who are able to seek care from subspecialists typically have better outcomes. There are few gynecologic oncologists in this subspecialty and the majority of them tend to be concentrated in major metropolitan areas. 

Indeed, ovarian cancer is not really a  "silent killer", 80% of patients do have symptoms and when detected in early stages, it is can be cured. However, experts have not yet found a test to detect ovarian cancer early. Routine ultrasounds and blood tests have not been shown to be effective.

At UCSF, under Dr. Lee-may Chen's directorship, health professionals are getting support from the community to try to improve the treatments and ability to do blood testing to find cancers early.

Ovarian cancer occurs because of continuous ovulation. Each month, the ovulation process alters the surface of the ovary and that monthly injury possibly increases risk of ovarian cancer. Therefore, preventing ovulation through birth control, pregnancy, breast feeding, or surgical removal of the ovaries can all help decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.

Roughly 75% of patients who are diagnosed with advanced stage disease, will need a radical surgery, performed by a gynecologic oncologist to remove the bulk of the cancer followed by systemic chemotherapy. Radical treatment can put cancer into remission 70% of the time, but most of the cancer will reoccur within 2 years. When the cancer returns, it is generally considered a systemic problem and patients will need further treatment.

Endowment/ Partnership Opportunities

UCSF Department of OB/GYN, Division of Gynecologic Oncology offers many named endowed funding opportunities starting at the $100,000 level. Gifts of endowment provide sustained support in perpetuity and may be directed to a specific purpose or for unrestricted use by the Division.

Endowed Research Fund

Endowed Fellowship

General endowment

Professorships enable the University to make a permanent, substantial commitment to a researcher or clinician and his or her area of intellectual interest. Reserved for leaders in their fields, professorships signify UCSF's belief in a faculty member's past contributions and future promise. These endowments are often used to recognize and retain key faculty leaders or to attract internationally renowned faculty members to UCSF. Annual funding generated from endowed professorships provide a secure and sustained source of support for expenses related to the faculty member's work.

Distinguished Professorship

Endowed Professorship

To learn more about partnership opportunities and to find a cure for gynecologic cancers, please consider making a donation to the Division of Gynecology Oncology at the UCSF.

Make a Gift website or contact: Cia Glover at [email protected] or 415-502-6437. No donation is too small for this great cause!