Most cases of ovarian cancer are found at an advanced stage because there are few early symptoms. Due to the complex biology of the disease, the development of effective medications has been particularly challenging for scientists. For these reasons, the ovarian cancer team at the University of Chicago Medicine integrates medical care with ongoing clinical, basic and translational research. Our comprehensive care offers patients the most advanced treatments and technologies while asking questions that may lead to the next novel therapies. Our goal is to better understand the disease while providing optimum care for our patients.

Clinical Trials

Our ovarian cancer physician-scientists are members of the internationally recognized UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC), an NCI-designated cancer research center. As part of this consortium of select cancer research centers, our program — and our patients — have access to emerging therapies and the highest level of care for ovarian cancer. This includes Phase 1 clinical trials, the earliest study of new medications or protocols typically available in just a few centers. Gynecologic oncologist John Moroney, MD, and medical oncologist Gini Fleming, MD, work together to find the best clinical trials for patients, and share these recommendations with our multidisciplinary tumor board that meets each week. Find an ovarian cancer clinical trial.

Research

UChicago Medicine is home to a large ovarian cancer research laboratory led by Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD. It is dedicated to improving the understanding of the biology of ovarian cancer metastasis and to exploring new drugs for its treatment. The scientific work is integrated into the clinical care we offer to women with this disease. In recent years, researchers in the lab published findings in leading scientific journals, characterized two new targets in ovarian cancer that led to clinical trials, and developed a novel method to find new drugs.

Ovarian cancer research at UChicago Medicine focuses on: 

  • Drug discovery: Joining forces with other research centers across the country, our physician-scientists are actively trying to find novel drugs and determine which drug combinations can be given at effective doses while causing the fewest side effects.
  • Understanding tumor spread (metastasis): Characterizing tumors as well as examining the early steps in how ovarian cancer spreads, or metastasizes, to other parts of the body.
  • Imaging: Exploring new imaging agents for early detection of ovarian cancer. This effort is an extension of other collaborative work with UChicago Medicine biochemists that recently resulted in a promising method for more precisely differentiating malignant and benign tissue in early ovarian cancer.
  • Ovarian cancer prevention: Evaluating the anti-cancer effects of commonly used medications and translating research findings into clinical trials.
  • Genetic and protein studies: Understanding the changes in genes and proteins that underlie the first steps of ovarian cancer development. The ovarian cancer research team worked with UChicago Medicine's Department of Pathology in developing a program to collect and store tissue, blood and DNA samples from patients with ovarian cancer.