New nationwide trial for ovarian cancer underway

CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Ovarian cancer has been called the silent killer, because symptoms are often so subtle women don’t know they have it until the cancer is in a late, hard-to-treat stage.

Researchers across the country are enrolling women in a new trial that’s focusing on preventing the disease and some of the potential side effects.

Karen Ingalls was enjoying retirement in Florida with her husband one day. The next, she was fighting for her life after doctors found a tumor in her abdomen the size of a melon.

That was nine years ago.

“I had to start thinking about what I wanted to do and what God wanted me to do with whatever time I had left,” explained Ingalls.

Eleven hundred miles north, researchers at the University of Chicago are working on a new treatment option; enrolling women in the WISP trial, women choosing surgical prevention.

“It’s a trial meant for people who are at quite elevated risk for ovarian cancer because they’ve been identified to carry a mutation in a gene,” Iris Romero, MD, OB/GYN, an Associate Professor at University of Chicago explained.

For years, doctors have recommended young women at high risk have both their fallopian tubes and ovaries removed. It greatly lowers the risk of cancer, but causes early menopause. Half of the women enrolled will have the traditional surgery. The other half will have two surgeries, removing just their fallopian tubes first. New research suggests that is the point where ovarian cancer actually begins.

Dr. Romero continued, “So in the WISP trial where a patient chooses to take a two-step procedure she may delay the onset of menopause by several years until she comes back to get her ovaries out.”

Dr. Romero says the goal is to determine if women have less sexual dysfunction and a better quality of life by staggering the surgeries. In the meantime, survivors like Karen Ingalls continue to advocate for ovarian cancer education and support.

“I am encouraged and I think we are on the right road,” said Dr. Romero.

Karen Ingalls was treated with surgery and chemo, and has had two cancer recurrences, but is currently in remission. Dr. Romero says she and other researchers ultimately want to know if removing just the fallopian tubes will be enough to protect against ovarian cancer.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.