More than 1,300 women are diagnosed with invasive ovarian cancer in Australia every year and the five year survival is only ~40 %. Most women diagnosed with ovarian cancer face a poor prognosis and almost uniformly ask what they can do to improve their chances of survival.
Women with clinically and pathologically similar ovarian cancers can have very different outcomes suggesting other factors are important in determining survival. There is evidence that lifestyle factors influence recurrence and survival in breast and colon cancer but there is currently no direct evidence as to whether the same is true for ovarian cancer.
The Ovarian Cancer Prognosis and Lifestyle (OPAL) study aims to fill this knowledge gap by following a national cohort of women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It aims to identify whether potentially modifiable lifestyle choices including physical activity, diet and medication use are associated with recurrence and survival.
A number of potential areas could be investigated, for example:
- To identify whether potentially modifiable aspects of lifestyle (e.g. diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, use of dietary supplements and common medications) and/or use of complementary medicines during chemotherapy are independently associated with:
- prevalence and severity of side-effects during chemotherapy
- physical, functional and emotional well-being during chemotherapy
- chemotherapy completion rates.
- To identify whether potentially modifiable aspects of lifestyle after completion of primary treatment are independently associated with patient outcomes. Specifically, we will consider the relation between:
- progression-free and overall survival
- quality of life at 12 and 24 months.
- The projects would be suitable for Masters/PhD students, but some experience in statistics and data analysis is essential and a background in epidemiology and/or an interest in cancer are highly desirable.