Women's Health

New Research: Using Mathematics to Treat Ovarian Cancer

Diagnosis confirmation and treatment

Diagnosis confirmation and treatment

The current mainstay of treatment for ovarian cancer is a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.

For the surgical component, certain OR procedures are carried out. The surgeon collects tissue and fluid samples for biopsy studies. If tumors are visible, he/she removes as much of the cancer as possible. However, this is a localized approach and doesn’t offer the ability to find and remove any cancer that has vacated the ovaries to attack other sites. Therefore, surgery is followed with chemotherapy, using a round of chemicals whose job is to destroy cancer-affected cells within the body.

In addition to surgery, ultrasounds, or scans, blood tests are performed. One blood test involves the measurement of CA-125, a cancer protein found on the surface of many ovarian cancer cells. It is crucial to obtain a baseline reading of this protein. High levels indicate the probable presence of ovarian cancer cells and, in combination with biopsy results, constitute the cancer diagnosis. Continued protein tests during treatment are a good indicator of treatment response. Rising levels might signify the cancer has returned, or that it is not responding to the treatment. If the Alber-Stark study results in the founding of a new treatment drug, a test such as this could measure the effectiveness of that research during clinical trials.