The Foundation for Women’s Cancer: Helping to Save Women’s Lives, a Q&A
Did you know that there are more than 100 types of cancer? With staggering numbers like these, we’d almost need an expert on each type to highlight the latest research and breakthroughs. Since WomensHealth.com focuses on women’s health, we turned to the Foundation for Women’s Cancer, a nonprofit organization founded by The Society of Gynecologic Oncology in 1991.
The FWC’s mission is to increase public awareness of gynecological cancer risk awareness, prevention, early detection and optimal treatment. It also provides funding for research and training, educational programs, and resources. Since every woman is at risk for gynecological cancer, this help is much needed.
Gynecological oncologist Dr. Ginger J. Gardner, MD answered our questions about the past year and the one just begun.
WomensHealth.com: Tell us about 2016. What research is the FWC excited about?
Dr. Gardner for FWC: The field of genetics is rapidly expanding the knowledge regarding gene determinants that put patients at risk for gynecologic cancers. Unlocking the genetic determinants for these diseases increases the knowledge for both preventing and treating these diseases.
WH: What new therapies or drugs are available that our readers should know about?
FWC: There are new, targeted therapies showing exciting promise for gynecologic cancers. Currently PD-1 inhibitors and PARP inhibitors are in a number of clinical trials to best harness their opportunity to improve patient outcomes.
WH: What support is available to individuals and families who are living with women’s cancer?
FWC: The Foundation for Women’s Cancer has numerous opportunities to support women and their families that face these diseases. In addition to a broad scope of online resources, the FWC sponsors Survivorship Courses nationwide throughout the year. These courses include presentations from leading experts about the latest research, information about clinical trials, and important discussions and resources to enhance quality of life during treatment and beyond. These events provide a valuable opportunity to bring women together and share their experience.
In addition, the FWC holds an annual National Race to End Women’s Cancer as a one-mile walk or 5k run. This event is held each year in early November in Washington DC. FWC Survivorship Courses are held every year during this weekend for patients and families. I bring my family every year to this powerful event toward the Capital building at sunrise in the spirit of our determination to eradicate gynecologic cancers. I still get chills every year as I see the women, families, surgeons, nurses, and supporters head toward the Capital building at sunrise in the spirit of our determination to eradicate gynecologic cancers.
WH: What goals does the FWC have for 2017?
FWC: Increasing patient awareness, education, and research for women’s cancers. It is important to realize that women’s cancers are more than a pink ribbon about breast cancer awareness. Tens of thousands of women are affected every year by ovarian cancer, and there is much work to be done to further the science of screening, prevention and treatment for this challenging disease. Uterine cancer is the most common gynecologic tract cancer in this country, and there are important symptoms for early diagnosis and screening. More research and awareness are critically needed to best support improving outcomes and ultimately eradicating these diseases.
WH: What areas of research is your foundation excited about for the future?
FWC: Patient reported outcomes are an important area in cancer research. The opportunity to cure disease is a central objective, and yet quality of life and the patient reported experience during and following treatment holds tremendous opportunity to further enhance long-term outcomes. This area of research is being included in many of our current research efforts.
WH: What would you like female readers to know about the FWC that you haven’t addressed?
FWC: The FWC is comprised of Gynecologic Oncologists. These are physicians, like myself, that specialize in the care of women with gynecologic cancers. This includes ovarian cancer, uterine/endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, and vaginal/vulvar cancers. The materials and survivorship events that are held by the FWC include content that is produced by Gynecologic Oncologists to promote awareness, research and education about these diseases.