Ovarian Cancer Research

Clinical research trials study new ways to prevent, diagnose or treat ovarian cancer.

The more women that participate in clinical trials, the faster we will find early detection tools, better treatment and ultimately a cure.

Clinical trials exist for women at every point in their experience with ovarian cancer.  A women can begin exploring the options of clinical trials at any point during her experience with ovarian cancer. MOCA encourages women to find out more about clinical trials by visiting the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Clinical Trials Matching Service online or by calling (800) 535-1682.

The U.S. National Institues of Health also offers a website matching tool which also includes a tool to find clincal trials in Minnesota.


Types of Ovarian Cancer Clinical Research Trials

A woman is eligible to participate in a clinical trial at any point in her experience with ovarian cancer. Many women think of clinical trials as an option only after other treatments have failed. Clinical trials exist for women in this situation, but many equally important trials are available for women earlier in their fight against ovarian cancer.

  • Prevention trials test ways to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. They typically enroll healthy women at high risk for developing ovarian cancer or survivors who want to prevent its return or reduce the chance of developing a new type of cancer.
  • Screening trials look for ways to detect ovarian cancer at an early stage in healthy women.
  • Diagnostic trials seek to develop better ways to diagnose and care for women with ovarian cancer. They usually enroll women who have already had ovarian cancer or who have signs and symptoms of it. Many of the current diagnostic trials in ovarian cancer focus on proteomics, which involves evaluating the levels of different proteins in the blood.
  • Treatment trials determine what new treatments or combinations of existing treatments can help women who have ovarian cancer. They evaluate the effectiveness of new treatments or new ways to use existing treatments. (A “treatment” may be a drug, therapy vaccine, surgery, or any combination of these.) Various treatment trials exist for women with ovarian cancer, most of which explore the effectiveness of different combinations of surgery and drug therapies in fighting ovarian cancer.
  • Quality-of-life/supportive care trials aim to improve the quality of life for ovarian cancer patients, survivors, and their families.  These may include issues like side effects from chemotherapy like neuropathy or nausea, or need for pain medication.
  • Genetic trials, which are usually part of another clinical trial, attempt to determine how a woman’s genetic makeup can influence the detection, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of ovarian cancer. Family-based genetic research studies exist that differ from cancer clinical trials; in these studies, multiple high-risk family members may give blood and tissue and agree to be evaluated on an annual basis.


Ovarian Cancer Clinical Research Trial Phases

The goal of many clinical trials is to gain approval for the drug in use against ovarian cancer by the Food and Drug Administration.  This can be a lengthy process with three phases of research.

  • Phase 1 trials evaluate the safety of a treatment. These studies typically enroll fewer than 50 people who have different types of cancer and determine the safe dosage and delivery method of a drug.  These trials also evaluate the side effects of the drug.
  • Phase 2 trials test to see if the treatment works against ovarian cancer. These studies typically enroll about 100 women with ovarian cancer.
  • Phase 3 trials test the new treatment against the best existing treatment, also called the “standard of care” or “standard care.” These studies typically enroll hundreds to thousands of women to determine if the treatment is safe and effective against ovarian cancer.  Phase 3 data is used to apply for FDA approval.

Next: Ovarian Cancer Survivor Stories »

More Resources

  • The Promise of Cancer Research (National Cancer Institute)
    More information about ovarian cancer clinical trials for prevention, screening and treatment from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.


Ovarian Cancer National Alliance > Clinical Trials

Ovarian Cancer National Alliance > Types of Clinical Trials

Ovarian Cancer National Alliance > The Clinical Trial Process

Survivor Stories

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