You don't have to accept severe period pain or heavy bleeding. Join the "Just a Period" campaign

Can ovarian cancer’s resistance to chemotherapy be prevented?

Wellbeing of Women has invested £134,193 into Dr Sarah McClelland’s research into preventing chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer

High-grade serous ovarian cancer is the most common type of ovarian cancer, the deadliest gynaecological cancer in the Western world.

This ovarian cancer is particularly lethal because, even if treatment is successful at first, it often becomes resistant to chemotherapy – making it effectively untreatable.

However, high-grade serous ovarian cancer also has high rates of ‘chromosomal instability’ – when the chromosomes within the cancer cells change a lot – which could provide the key to treating the disease.

Experts believe that this constant change means that the cancer cells also gain new abilities, such as resistance to chemotherapy.


Finding solutions

So the question is: Could stabilising these chromosomes prevent high-grade serous ovarian cancer from becoming resistant to chemotherapy?

In previous research Dr Sarah McClelland, Senior Lecturer at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, has found a way of stabilising these chromosomes. In this project, she will test this method by experimenting on growing cancer cells that have been taken from women with high-grade serous ovarian cancer.

Using samples from patients, she will also see if this technique could be used on women with high-grade serous ovarian cancer in future.

If Dr McClelland’s theory is correct, she could find a new life-saving preventative treatment for the thousands of women who are diagnosed with the ‘silent killer’ each year.

Our health information on gynaecological cancers

As a women’s health charity, part of what we do is improve awareness and understanding of women's reproductive and gynaecological health.