Biologically informed ovarian cancer prevention: Promoting education and awareness



  • Shaina Lee
    University of British Columbia

Over 11 percent of cancers and 9 percent of cancer deaths in women are from reproductive cancers. This represents a substantial disease burden; however, public dialogue levels and research funding doesn’t reflect this. Breast cancer, which has more public awareness, received 60 percent higher investment between 2005 and 2014 in research compared to reproductive cancers on a per case basis; this gap is even greater when comparison is based on cancer-related deaths. This team will create knowledge dissemination tools focusing on reproductive cancer prevention, to raise public awareness, and start a discussion about reproductive cancers. Public education could improve outcomes and lead to a national focus and investment in clinical care and research on reproductive cancers.

Prevention initiatives could reduce 1/4 of the 12,000 reproductive cancers that occur in Canada each year. Videos will be created and aimed at the target audience (women who can benefit from prevention), focused on three areas:

  1. Opportunistic salpingectomy (removal of fallopian tubes during hysterectomy or other pelvic surgery) to prevent ovarian cancer.
  2. Cervical cancer screening and prevention.
  3. Genetic testing for inherited risk factors.

These will be short, animated videos, less than three minutes, and succinctly describe the preventive strategy and current state of research. They will be posted on the OVCARE (BC’s multidisciplinary research group focusing on reproductive cancers) website ( and linked through other outlets (other websites and online news sites, social media). A parallel set of videos will be created to convey the same information but designed for selected patient waiting areas and silenced to minimize disruption. Once created, these videos can be used at speaking events, fundraising events, and other venues. Along with inadequate funding for prevention research, participation in prevention activities has been identified as a barrier to uptake of prevention strategies. Education is one strategy to increase uptake.

This team has a strong track record of successful educational campaigns, informing clinicians and the public about opportunistic salpingectomy in 2010, and more recently to inform health care providers about new molecular stratification of endometrial cancers. It is hoped that this initiative will increase uptake of prevention activities and lead to greater public awareness of reproductive cancers.