Collaborative Project Aims to Improve Care for Advanced Ovarian Cancer Patients

Collaborative Project Aims to Improve Care for Advanced Ovarian Cancer Patients

A new collaborative project seeks to help ovarian cancer programs better understand and remove impediments to optimal care for patients with advanced epithelial disease.

Called “Barriers to Quality Care in Ovarian Cancer,” the effort will be led by the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), along with AstraZeneca and Merck. Partners include the Association for Molecular Pathology, the National Society of Genetic Counselors, and the Society of Gynecologic Oncology.

Through an application process, the ACCC will ultimately select three cancer programs to pilot improvements that address identified barriers or gaps in care for patients with epithelial ovarian cancer. About 85% to 90% of malignant ovarian cancers are epithelial ovarian carcinomas, according to the American Cancer Society.

The project will focus on advanced cancer, since that is when four of five ovarian cancers are diagnosed, mostly due to relatively subtle symptoms and the lack of an effective early detection method. Women with localized-stage disease have more than a 90% five-year survival rate. In addition, treatment often produces poorly managed side effects.

The ACCC calls attention in its news release to the importance of molecular biomarker testing for ovarian cancer. Such DNA testing identifies mutations in either one of two susceptibility genes — BRCA1 and BRCA2 — which could mean a higher risk for malignancy compared with the general population.

The Society of Gynecologic Oncology recommended in 2014 that women diagnosed with epithelial cancer receive genetic counseling and be offered the test, even in the absence of any family history of the disease. Still, only about one-third of patients have undergone the tests that scientists say could help physicians and patients make optimal treatment decisions.

The new education initiative involves using a multidisciplinary team to examine patient care from diagnosis to treatment — including multidisciplinary coordination and communication — and to pinpoint barriers across care settings. The mission is to raise awareness about patient care challenges in cancer programs and practices.

With a goal of promoting quality cancer care, the ACCC is a national community of more than 25,000 multidisciplinary practitioners and 2,100 cancer programs and practices.

For more information about the project, email Monique Dawkins at [email protected].