Ovarian Cancer

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a growth of cells that forms in the ovaries. It is the second most common gynecologic cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in women in the U.S.1 75% of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage2 and recurrence happens in almost all patients, leading to 13,000 deaths/year in the US3. Because it has few symptoms, ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage leading to poor outcomes.

Initial treatment for ovarian cancer includes surgery and/or platinum-based chemotherapy, but in many patients, the disease will eventually progress and become resistant to platinum-based chemotherapy.

How does cortisol activity affect ovarian cancer?

Cortisol may impact the effectiveness of chemotherapy in several types of tumors, including platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, by inhibiting some of the pathways that chemotherapy agents utilize, thus reducing their effectiveness.

What role might cortisol modulation play in ovarian cancer?

In certain cancers like ovarian cancer, cortisol suppresses cell death. Combining a cortisol modulator with an anti-cancer agent like chemotherapy – which is intended to provoke cell death – may make treatment more effective.

How else might cortisol modulation treat cancer?

A second mechanism by which cortisol modulation may work is by blocking an important tumor growth pathway.

A third therapeutic mechanism seeks to treat tumors by enhancing the body’s immune response.

1Siegel RL CA Cancer J Clin 2022.

2Doubeni American Family Physician 2016.

3National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. Cancer stat facts: ovarian cancer. Accessed November 21, 2022. https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/ovary.html.