Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer in Australia and, unlike many other cancers, survival has only slightly improved in recent decades. This multidisciplinary stream of research is supported by key collaborators and advisors from across the Daffodil Centre, including Professor Anna DeFazio, Professor Karen Canfell, Dr Michael Caruana, Dr Kirstie McLoughlin, Associate Professor Carolyn Nickson and Associate Professor Natalie Taylor. Together, the team is leading research to help inform policy and improve the way healthcare is delivered for women with, and at risk of, ovarian cancer. This work is made possible by funding from the Fussell Family Foundation.

Current areas of focus include:

Roadmap for optimal clinical pathways

Following the approach used in other research programs within the Daffodil Centre, the team is developing an Ovarian Cancer Roadmap, which will outline a focused, evidence-based approach to reducing the burden of ovarian cancer. The roadmap considers the different subtypes of ovarian cancer and the need for tailored approaches to prevention, early detection and treatment. The roadmap will help guide the research priorities, aiming to use the best available evidence to reach consensus on optimal clinical pathways for the prevention, early detection, and management of ovarian cancer.

Understanding ovarian cancer diagnostic pathways

There is no effective early detection test for ovarian cancer in women without symptoms, and the symptoms themselves are often vague or difficult to distinguish from other health issues. This means ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage when it is more difficult to treat.  By analysing data from the 45 and Up Study and information on health care usage, the team is developing a picture of the current pathways to diagnosis of ovarian cancer in Australia, aiming to identify trends in diagnostic pathways and potential gaps or disparities in care.

Understanding the costs of ovarian cancer

Using information from the 45 and Up Study and linked data on health care usage, the team is investigating the direct health system costs of ovarian cancer. Benchmarking current practice and these associated costs is vital to identify how clinicians, researchers and policy makers can make the biggest impact on improving ovarian cancer survival.

Identifying risk-appropriate genetic testing referral pathways

Using implementation science approaches, the team is conducting a process mapping investigation to understand the current referral processes for genetic testing and counselling for women with ovarian cancer and their families, to demonstrate variation that may exist between settings, and identify any positive or negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on referral processes. The team is also exploring how eligibility criteria, service availability, and referral pathways may differ based on regionality or private health insurance status.

Modelling the future of ovarian cancer

The team is developing an innovative predictive modelling platform, called Policy1–Ovary. This highly sophisticated tool is being used to assess the potential impact of different interventions for ovarian cancer, such as new early detection strategies, improvements to diagnostic pathways or treatment tools and interventions.

Research Team

Professor Anna DeFazio

Professor Anna deFazio

Sydney West Chair in Translational Cancer Research, University of Sydney, Westmead Clinical School; Department of Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research

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