September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month! Ovarian cancer is currently the deadliest of the gynecologic cancers. This is something we are working towards changing. In the meantime, we thought we would take the time to use our blog to help raise awareness and provide a bit of an overview on ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is a disease where some of the cells in one or both ovaries mutate and start to grow abnormally and develop into cancer.
Different types of ovarian cancer
There are four main types of ovarian cancer, named after the type of cells in the ovary where the cancer begins growing:
- Epithelial ovarian cancer begins in the outer cells that cover the ovary. This is the most common type of ovarian cancer, accounting for about 90% of cases;
- Borderline tumors (also sometimes called 'low malignant potential' or LMP tumors) are a group of epithelial tumors which are not as aggressive as other epithelial tumors. The outlook for women with borderline tumors is generally good regardless of whether the disease is diagnosed early or late;
- Germ cell ovarian cancer begins in the cells that mature into eggs. These tumors account for about 5% of ovarian cancers and usually affect women under 30 years of age;
- Sex-cord stromal cell ovarian cancer begins in the ovary cells that release female hormones. These tumors account for approximately 5% of ovarian cancers and can affect women of any age.
Both germ cell and sex-cord stromal cell ovarian cancers respond well to treatment and are often curable.
Why we need more awareness?
- According to the World Health Organization, each year approximately 238,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed in women worldwide;
- Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate of all gynecologic cancers, with an estimated 152,000 women dying of the disease each year;
- The majority of cases are not found at an early stage when a cure would be possible by surgery.
Why we need better treatment options?
Ovarian cancer is treated with one or a combination of treatments, most commonly surgery and chemotherapy. Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, the patient’s preferences and overall health, and personal considerations, such as the woman's age and if she is planning to have children.
When the drugs cisplatin and carboplatin stop working, the cancer is said to be platinum resistant and oncologists currently have no treatment options to offer these patients. New treatments are needed. Our clinical stage small molecule called COTI-2 acts by normalizing the p53 protein function in cancer cells with such mutations. As the vast majority of ovarian cancers have this mutation, it appears that of all the ovarian drugs in development at this time, COTI-2 offers the most exciting treatment opportunity. In fact, we believe that COTI-2 represents a significant therapeutic advantage over treatments currently available for ovarian cancer.