Detecting ovarian cancer is, in general, difficult because of the lack of effective screening tests. If the disease is discovered when confined to the ovaries, surgery alone is curative in more than 90% of patients – however, in most patients, diagnosis only occurs after dissemination beyond the ovaries. In these cases, a combined treatment of surgery and chemotherapy is necessary. Unfortunately prognosis is grim and median survival is only 3 years despite treatment. Although there have been a wide variety of studies carried out on ovarian cancer, the answers to several key questions related to the optimal sequencing and scheduling of chemotherapy and surgery are far from resolved. Mathematical modelling had been used little in this regard. The research team developed simple mathematical models to incorporate tumour growth as well as the effects of chemotherapeutic treatments and surgical interventions in ovarian cancer. They considered the problem of the optimal sequencing of surgery and chemotherapy. It is expected that these models may prove useful for other types of cancer. The research carried out has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Theoretical Biology and it will be interesting to see how the model predictions compare with a clinical trial currently in progress.
Dr. Siv Sivaloganathan
Princess Margaret Hospital
University of Waterloo
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