Roswell Park Deputy Director Dr. Kunle Odunsi, left, will lead  a Cancer Moonshot-funded project aimed at developing a new treatment option for ovarian cancer.

Collaboration is Key to Developing an Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Test

The vast majority of ovarian cancers, about 70%, are not diagnosed until an advanced stage, making successful treatment difficult and elusive. Despite important advances in surgery and chemotherapy that have been made over the past 20 years, the overall five-year survival probability is only 28%, and there is an enormous unmet need for early detection. In the small proportion of patients with accurately diagnosed stage I epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), the five-year survival is >90%.

Therefore, the goal of cancer risk assessment and screening for high grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) is to detect early-stage malignancies in the asymptomatic pre-clinical phase of disease, such that subsequent treatment will have a significant impact on reducing disease morbidity and mortality.

Serous tubal intraepithelial carcinoma (STIC) is a precursor lesion for high-grade pelvic serous carcinoma. The incidence of STIC is estimated to occur in 0.6% to 6% of women who are BRCA positive or have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer. These STIC lesions take about seven years to develop but are rarely found before they develop into cancer. This latent phase of cancer development offers a window of opportunity for early disease detection.

Given that STIC diagnoses are rare — most are incidental findings of prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy — it will be challenging to acquire sufficient material for all of the analyses. The consortium will need to assemble a large case set of STIC patients to facilitate a multi-omics analysis.

Interested in participating in this research? Contact Dr. Kunle Odunsi at

For this reason, an expanded Phase 2 of this research project will focus on an ongoing prospective collection of biospecimens and data within the network of participating institutions as well as a crowdsourcing campaign that will likely provide adequate numbers of STIC samples for analyses. The social media campaign will be implemented in partnership with the SGO and advocacy groups (e.g. Globe-athon to End Women’s Cancer, FORCE).