New clinical trial to determine ovarian cancer risks in African-American women

February 1, 2011, University Hospitals Case Medical Center

University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine are conducting an important new study addressing the lack of knowledge about causes and risk factors for ovarian cancer in African American women. The five-year study is funded by the National Cancer Institute through Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Ovarian cancer, though relatively rare, is the most lethal of all gynecologic cancers. It is the fifth most common cause of cancer death among women behind lung, breast, colorectal and pancreas. have lower incidence rates than women of other races yet have a poorer survival rate.

"This study hopes to address the lack of knowledge about causes of ovarian cancer among African-American women by establishing a multi-site, national collaboration that will educate, treat, and assess both environmental and genetic risk factors in African American women," said Jill S. Barnholtz-Sloan, PhD, the study's principal investigator at UH Case Medical Center and Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "Ovarian cancer is a deadly disease and it is important that we better understand what causes this disease if we have any hope of preventing it in the future."

The nine-state collaborative study aims to enroll 1,000 African American women between the ages of 20-79 with primary ovarian cancer and an equal amount of same-aged, healthy African American women. Researchers hope to discover how risk factors for ovarian caner in African American women are similar or different from the established risk factors in white women and if the differences can account for racial differences in ovarian cancer incidence (i.e. proportion of newly diagnosed cases).

"This study will not only help us determine differences in risk factors between African American women and white women but we also anticipate that this study will provide a foundation to conduct studies of other cancers in African American women in the future." said Steven Waggoner, MD, co-primary investigator on the study, Chief of Gynecologic Oncology at UH Case Medical Center and Associate Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "Furthermore it is important for us to determine what factors are associated with poorer survival rates in African American women."

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