Research Project: Excessive Body Weight and Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women age 35 to 74 years old.1 More than 90% of women live five years or longer if they are diagnosed and treated early.1 Ovarian cancer does not have a test that can detect it at an early stage.1 Also, the symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar to other sicknesses, so only about 20% of cases are found early.1 For women whose cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage, they have a 28% chance of surviving.1

Co-led by Dr. Carrie House and Dr. Tom Huxford, the goals of this research project are to understand the role of excessive body weight in making ovarian cancer worse and the effectiveness of treatments like chemotherapy. The project team is studying the role of excessive body weight in activating a protein that can trigger inflammation. Inflammation is part of the immune system’s response to sickness and injury; however, it can lead to tumor-initiating cells that help ovarian cancer tumors grow and make treatments like chemotherapy not work as well.

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1 National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. “What is Ovarian Cancer?” NOCC. (accessed June 14, 2019)

Research reported on this website was supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, part of the National Institutes of Health, under Award Number U54MD012397; additional support is provided by S21MD010690 (SDSU HealthLINK Endowment). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.