Comprehensive Ovarian Cancer Program

In the general population, there is 1.5% life-time risk of developing ovarian cancer. Despite extensive research in this field, ovarian cancer remains the most lethal gynecological malignancy. There is no effective screening test and no symptoms of early stage disease. Multiple studies have shown that for the well selected group of patients, aggressive surgical management followed by chemotherapy and/ or maintenance treatment can improve survival.

At UHN, we are maximizing efforts to help these patients. As of October, 2018, we initiated the comprehensive ovarian cancer program. Every referral with suspected or diagnosed advanced ovarian cancer is prioritized and booked into clinic within 7 business days. We have a program navigator who contacts the patients prior to their clinic appointment to assure imaging are already done or booked urgently. We arrange for a biopsy to be carried out in a short term interval, to minimize any delays to diagnosis/ treatment. At the time of the clinic appointment, the patient and family meet with the gynecologic oncologist as well as with our nursing team and the program navigator. The patients  are being offered to participate in clinical trials if they are interested and eligible.

Each case is then presented in our Ovarian Cancer Multi-disciplinary Cancer Conference, which includes surgeons, expert radiologists, medical oncologists and the program navigator. We carefully discuss each case based on multiple criteria to decide about next steps.We aim to deliver the best treatment in the most effective, prompt and compassionate way. We have a leading surgical team, front line systemic treatment options and well-trained support team to assure no questions are left unanswered.

Since the implementation of the Ovarian Cancer Surgical Program, our team has worked hard to achieve an efficient timeline through the program by lowering wait times for initial consult and start of treatment. Once referred to our program, patients are prioritized and booked for primary clinic consultation within 7 business days. Additionally, the average time to begin treatment has also decreased. In order to continue achieving our goal to deliver the best treatment in the most effective, prompt and compassionate way, we continually ask our patients for their feedback regarding their experience through our program. To date, our patients have expressed great appreciation towards our clear communication and continuous efforts in preparing them for their journey ahead. Patients provided the following feedback when asked about their experience with our Ovarian Cancer Surgical Program:

    • “Everyone in the Gynecology Oncology Surgical Team has been fantastic to us.”
    • Throughout our experience here we felt we were taken seriously and treated with respect. The journey is a difficult one, but the team here is  making it clear and easier to manage. The online appointments and results platforms are very helpful (MY UHN).”
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Read more about ovarian cancer from Dr. Taymaa May.

 

Program Navigators:

Tara Almassi

Tara joined the Ovarian Program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in February 2020 and has worked closely with the Gynecology Oncology team to further develop the program. Tara coordinates all business initiatives related to the program, maintains program finances, ensures accurate ongoing data collection of important metrics of care, and manages the main platform and other novel data collection strategies. She has an interest in better understanding patient needs and finding ways to enhance the patient experience through the program and overall cancer journey. Tara works closely with our nurse navigator to ensure our patients are provided with all the necessary information and comprehensive care, beginning at the time of referral, and continuing throughout their treatment course.

Sharin Collins

Sharin Collins is a Clinical Research Analyst at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. She has an interest in gynecological cancers and annotated biospecimens that translate scientific discoveries into better patient diagnostics and therapies. Sharin has over 7 years of experience in gynecologic oncology research. Her research focuses on translational science and clinical trials with a special interest in the field of ovarian cancer. As the research lead, Sharin manages all ovarian cancer related studies and coordinates biobanking initiatives.