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Understanding why chemotherapy drugs stop working in ovarian cancer patients

  • Researcher: Professor David Bowtell
  • Institution: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
  • Award Amount: £210,003 for 3 years from June 2011
  • Cancer Type: Ovarian Cancer
Understanding why chemotherapy drugs stop working in ovarian cancer patients
Worldwide, there are more than 204,000 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year. The most common treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery followed by chemotherapy using drugs that contain the metal platinum. There are several different types of ovarian cancer and one of the most common is called serous. About three quarters of patients with serous ovarian cancer normally respond well to their first chemotherapy treatments but many women with advanced forms of the disease find the cancer returns after months or even years. When the cancer recurs women are then given the chemotherapy again but in many cases the drugs no longer work as the cancer has become resistant and so develops further. Sadly many women with serous cancer will die several years from the date they were initially diagnosed. The reasons why the cancers become resistant to treatment are poorly understood and they are the focus of Professor Bowtell's Worldwide Cancer Research grant. Using samples from ovarian cancer patients collected before and after treatment he has found a gene which he believes could play a role in this resistance to the drugs and he is now working to understand how it may do this.
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