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Network Funding Tech To Boost Ovarian Cancer Care

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9 Mar. 2020. An alliance of cancer centers in the U.S. is supporting four projects developing technologies for improving care for patients with advanced ovarian cancer. Financing for the projects undertaken by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, or NCCN, in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, is provided at least in part by drug maker AstraZeneca, in Cambridge, U.K. that develops ovarian cancer treatments.

According to American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, resulting in more deaths than any other type of cancer affecting women’s reproductive organs. The organization expects nearly 22,000 women to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, leading to some 14,000 deaths.

“Advanced and recurrent ovarian cancer is currently the deadliest gynecologic cancer,” says Wui-Jin Koh, chief medical officer for NCCN in an organization statement. “It requires a multi-disciplinary approach for management, which can provide challenges for optimal coordination.”

Two of the four projects are creating telemedicine solutions for specialized populations. One effort, by a team at University of Alabama in Birmingham, is assessing a proposed telehealth program aimed at reducing barriers and disparities faced by rural women with advanced ovarian cancer.

A second initiative at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston is developing a telemedicine intervention for women with advanced ovarian cancer, suffering from fatigue from a type of treatment known as PARP inhibitors. Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, or PARP, inhibitors block tumor cells from repairing damaged DNA from cancer treatments, allowing cancer cells to die.

Another NCCN project asks researchers at Yale University to develop an IT solution to better understand social factors in communities affecting advanced ovarian cancer patients. And a group at Fred Hutchison Cancer Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is creating a patient-centered education and support program for women with advanced ovarian cancer.

“These projects,” notes Koh, “will explore opportunities to leverage technology in order to improve patient outcomes and quality of life through supportive services, shared decision-making, and innovative methods of care delivery. They also focus on approaches which will hopefully help reduce disparities within current health delivery systems.”

The teams are expected to begin work on these systems in the third quarter of 2020, with completion expected within two years. AstraZeneca is supporting a similar program for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

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