Bringing ovarian cancer research into this century - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Bringing ovarian cancer research into this century

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - A local non-profit is working to improve ovarian cancer survival rates by guiding patients into a new frontier.

Ovarian cancer is known as a silent killer because symptoms are vague like: bloating, abdominal or back pain, frequent urination - and symptoms are often misdiagnosed until it is too late.

An emergency room physician for more than 30 years, doctor Tania Homochuk has helped save countless lives. Now, she is a patient in the fight of her own life and taking part in a clinical trial out of Boston

Doctor Homochuk is battling her third recurrence of stage three ovarian cancer - originally diagnosed in 2010.

Surprised and scared Dr. Homochuk's life flashed before her eyes. Despite her extensive training in emergency medicine, she had little experience in oncology.

"I immediately went back to what I learned in the late 70s, early 80s which is that ovarian cancer is the kiss of death and I was going to die," said Dr. Homochuk.

Hillary Theakston is executive director of the Clearity Foundation in San Diego. It's the only non-profit of its kind in the nation, using precision medicine to help ovarian cancer patients get individualized care.

"About 22,000 women every year are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and we lose 14,000 women every year to the disease. We help women understand their tumor biology. We often identify some out of the box treatment options that their physicians might not have thought about," said Theakston.

One challenge in treating ovarian cancer is that each tumor is unique. By studying the cells and learning how they are mutating, the Clearity Foundation helps each patient understand how best to tackle her tumor.

"Sometimes ovarian tumors behave more like a lung cancer tumor or colon cancer tumor or breast cancer tumor, so some of the drugs that have been developed specifically to target those genetic mutations, might also work in ovarian cancer," said Theakston.

The startling reality is that many ovarian cancer patients are treated with drugs developed more than four decades ago.

Only one, out of every three women survive ten years after being diagnosed.

The Clearity Foundation helps patients, free of charge, find the best treatment options and clinical trials.

Visit the Clearity Foundation website to learn more about its work and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Video of Foundation Medicine Lab provided by James Guardino/Bluedeeno.

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