Personalised Medicine and Targeted Treatment
Personalised medicine is a growing area of ovarian cancer research and treatment. Below you will find some more information on what personalised medicine is, and some information on current programs around Australia looking at personalised medicine in ovarian cancer.
Please note that this information is intended as a guide to prompt discussions with your treatment team who are best placed to guide you on eligibility and decisions regarding your individual situation. Ovarian Cancer Australia is unable to advise on eligibility but if you have any further questions, or would like any other information or support, please feel free to reach out to our ovarian cancer nurses on 1300 660 334 (during business hours).
What is personalised medicine and what is its relevance in ovarian cancer?
Personalised medicine is looking at and gathering information on someone’s cancer to better guide treatment decisions. Historically, cancer has often been treated based on the location of the cancer in the body e.g. bowel cancer with one regime, breast cancer another, involving a one size fits all approach. Ovarian cancer has been similar, with treatment often involving debulking surgery with chemotherapy before and/or afterwards. More recently, a range of innovative targeted therapies have emerged for many cancers including ovarian cancer.
We now know that each person has their own genetic makeup and that makes their cancer different as well. This means that people can benefit by understanding their cancer better and accessing treatments that target their specific changes.
Is personalised medicine available to me?
There are various programs available around Australia that are looking at an individual’s ovarian cancer to try and identify elements that can guide decision making around treatment choice, as well as steer decisions in relation to clinical trials. Please find below some further information about these personalised medicine programs. We recommend discussing these with your treatment team, asking questions such as:
Have I had any genetic testing (a blood test) or molecular testing (of my cancer) and what were the results?
Are there any clinical trials running that might suit my type and stage of disease?
Am I eligible for any of these programs and if so, could you please assist me in linking in with them?
What are some of the programs I could ask my treatment team about?
INOVATe (Individualised Ovarian Cancer Treatment Through Integration of Genomic Pathology into Multidisciplinary Care) is a research study that aims to better understand the many distinct subtypes that fall under the umbrella of ovarian cancer. This helps to individualise treatment and select patients for targeted clinical trials. The program is available at 13 sites across NSW.
STAFFORD FOX RARE CANCER PROGRAM – AUSTRALIAN RARE CANCERS PORTAL
The Stafford Fox Rare Cancer Program is based at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI). The program collects clinical and molecular information about rare cancers to improve our understanding of them, thereby improving treatments and outcomes for people diagnosed with a rare cancer. As part of this program, expert advice is available to assist clinicians treating rare cancers, via the Australian Rare Cancers (ARC) Portal.
The ARC Portal allows clinicians to refer their patients for advice about access to expert clinical guidelines, molecular testing options and interpretation of results, clinical trial and research opportunities, and support which is provided through Rare Cancers Australia. The Australian Rare Cancers Portal is one of the initiatives of the Omico Program (Outsmarting cancers together). Clinicians can refer their patients via the website.
OMICO and the MoST STUDY
Omico is a national precision oncology screening platform. The Molecular Screening and Therapeutics (MoST) study looks at molecular changes in a person’s cancer to help find possible targeted therapies. For women with ovarian cancer, the MoST study can be considered during or after their last lines of effective therapy. Your treating doctor is best placed to assess your eligibility and timing of referral. If you take part in this program, your cancer is analysed and information is gathered that is then reviewed by a team of experts who provide a report to your doctor. Some patients will have characteristics identified that will then allow them to participate in a MoST clinical trial or to access other targeted therapies.