OCRFA works with a variety of stakeholders, including health care practitioner societies, patients and federal partners, to ensure that all women receive standard of care treatment for ovarian cancer. We support policies that ensure all women with ovarian cancer have their surgery done by a gynecological oncologist, that standard chemotherapy regimens outlined by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) are followed and that all women are offered the chance to participate in clinical trials.

We also work to ensure that women are adequately evaluated for their risk of ovarian cancer during their annual well woman visits with their ob/gyn or general practitioner. We advocate for policies that would ensure that family health history information is collected at that appointment and that high-risk women are alerted to and evaluated for the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, and referred for genetic testing and counseling if necessary.

The Issue

In 2013, Dr. Robert Bristow from the University of California, Irvine, published a study showing that only 37.2 percent of patients actually received care that adhered to NCCN clinical practice guidelines. NCCN guidelines dictate that women should have their surgery and staging done by a gynecological oncologist, as well as the correct chemotherapy regimen they should undergo. Women who don’t receive standard of care have a 30 percent greater risk of dying within five years of diagnosis than those who do.

Typically, women who were treated at large, high-volume hospitals received standard of care, whereas those treated at low-volume hospitals did not. Additional research studies have shown that women from low-income or minority backgrounds typically have poorer survival rates. The results of this study were widely reported in the news, hopefully drawing the attention of physician’s organizations and patients to this serious issue.