Ramping up the fight against ovarian cancer

Director of cancer services Prof Paul Harnett and Sydney-West Chair in Translational cancer research Prof Anna deFazio

Almost 1,500 women in Australia are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, with only 43 per cent likely to be alive five years after their diagnosis.

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the sixth most common cause of cancer death affecting women in Australia.

Westmead Hospital director of cancer services Prof Paul Harnett, Sydney-West Chair in translational research Prof Anna deFazio and their expert teams from Westmead Hospital and Westmead Institute for Medical Research are working together to end ovarian cancer for good.

Paul said important research has benefited communities greatly.

“Back in 1992 I had a patient who died from ovarian cancer,” Paul said.

“She had donated a sample of her tumour for research and about 10-12 years later Anna included her sample in a research study.

“We found out she was likely to have inherited a rare gene mutation that caused her cancer. This meant that her family could be at increased risk of getting the cancer.

“We thought, the family need to know about this because we can stop them from getting cancer. We solved that problem and contacted the GP and got in touch with the family.

“The daughter was tested here at the Familial Cancer Clinic and she was actually carrying the gene mutation and had a high risk of getting the cancer.

“Long after the patient had died, the family could benefit from this research, and reduce their cancer risk, which was terrific.

“I think of that patient, I remember her well, and feel she would have been so pleased with that.”

Anna said researchers works hand-in-hand.

“Paul and the clinical team discuss patients and clinical situations to improve our understanding of this disease. This helps us to focus our research on projects that will lead to improved treatment outcomes for patients,” Anna said

To mark Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, the Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR) is hosting a morning tea.

Wear your teal awareness ribbon and join them for a raffle, henna hand painting, delicious cake and more at –

When:    10am – 12noon, Monday 19 February 2018

Where:   Level 2, Westmead Institute for Medical Research Building – entry at main from Hawkesbury Road Westmead

How:      $5 entry donation

All money raised will support Ovarian Cancer Australia, ovarian cancer patients and research at Westmead.

To donate to the Westmead Institute for Medical Research: Follow the link here

You can also find more information on ovarian cancer at – https://ovariancancer.net.au/about-ovarian-cancer

Prof Paul Harnett and Prof Anna deFazio at the WIMR research lab