Ovarian cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer in Australia and, unlike many other cancers, the rate of survival has only slightly improved in recent decades. The different ovarian cancer subtypes also mean that research on prevention, early detection and care needs to be tailored according to variations in cancer biology and optimal management. Using systematic reviews, epidemiology, modelling and implementation science, the Pathways–Ovarian Group is developing evidence to help inform policy and improve the way healthcare is delivered for women with, and at risk of, ovarian cancer. This work is funded by the Fussell Family Foundation, and current areas of focus include:
Understanding ovarian cancer diagnostic pathways
There is no effective early detection test for ovarian cancer in people without symptoms and the symptoms themselves are often vague So ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at late stage when it has spread and become difficult to treat. By analysing data from the 45 and Up Study and information on health care usage, the group is developing a picture of the current pathway to diagnosis of ovarian cancer in Australia. This work will identify trends in diagnostic pathways and potential gaps 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.
Modelling the future of ovarian cancer
The Pathways–Ovarian Group 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 any new early detection strategies, improvements to diagnostic pathways or treatment tools and interventions.
Improving health system referral processes for women at higher risk
A close family history of ovarian, breast, bowel or uterine cancers and some genetic factors are known to increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. The Pathways-Ovarian Group is mapping the referral process to genetic testing and counselling services for higher-risk women to identify potential gaps in care and inform improved practice and outcomes.
Scanning the emerging evidence
Using systematic and evidence reviews, the Pathways–Ovarian Group is scanning emerging evidence on early detection of ovarian cancer, including potential new diagnostic technologies.
“In Australia 1 woman every 8 hours dies from ovarian cancer, our research across the cancer control continuum will help guide policy and practice changes to improve these outcomes.”