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UC Davis Health System

UC Davis Health System

Sacramento ovarian cancer group funds biomarker research at UC Davis

ovarian cancer donation The Sacramento Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) presents a check for $14,000 to UC Davis Cancer Center (left to right) Suzanne Miyamoto, Gary Leiserowitz, Gina Dayton and Kit Lam.

The Sacramento Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) presented a check for $14,000 to UC Davis Cancer Center physician Gary Leiserowitz and the team of scientists and clinicians working to identify a reliable diagnostic biomarker for ovarian cancer. The donation is the chapter's first for a research endeavor. An additional matching grant of $14,000 was provided by UC Davis Cancer Center to promote this promising research.

"We are extremely supportive of Dr. Leiserowitz's efforts to find a definitive biomarker for early detection of ovarian cancer," said Gina Dayton, the president of Sacramento NOCC who is also an ovarian cancer survivor and program manager in population research and cancer disparities for UC Davis Cancer Center. "The contribution represents our confidence in his work and our hope that we can help advance his efforts."

NOCC was launched by ovarian cancer survivors dedicated to educating women about the indicators of ovarian cancer and the importance of early diagnosis. Through a variety of community fundraising efforts, Sacramento NOCC raised the funds to support Leiserowitz's collaborative research.

Early symptoms of ovarian cancer are typically nonspecific and, as a result, two-thirds of women are diagnosed only after the illness has spread to other organs. Ovarian cancer also has the highest mortality rate of any gynecologic malignancy.

"I went to the doctor with abdominal pain and was diagnosed with stage one ovarian cancer," Dayton said. "I was very lucky to catch the disease so early and have been cancer free now for four years. My mission as president of Sacramento NOCC is to help raise awareness about ovarian cancer and educate women about the risks and symptoms of this disease."

Gary Leiserowitz"My team and I are delighted that the Sacramento chapter of NOCC has honored us with a financial gift to support our research for a potential ovarian cancer biomarker."
— Gary Leiserowitz, chief of gynecologic oncology

In 2006, research from Leiserowitz and colleagues identified specific changes in the sugars attached to cellular proteins that were only found in the blood of ovarian cancer patients. This outcome fueled hope that the pattern could be indicative of the disease in its earliest stages. Leiserowitz is now in the next phase of that research, which involves larger numbers of blood samples from women with and without ovarian cancer in order to confirm an accurate test for detecting ovarian cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage, even before symptoms are present.

"My team and I are delighted that the Sacramento chapter of NOCC has honored us with a financial gift to support our research for a potential ovarian cancer biomarker," said Leiserowitz, professor and chief of gynecologic oncology at UC Davis Cancer Center. "Even though we have had significant success in developing a biomarker assay for this dangerous malignancy, we must continue to refine and confirm this new test. This seed money will provide necessary resources to get us to the next steps in this ongoing research project."

Leiserowitz's UC Davis research team on the study includes Kit Lam, chief of hematology and oncology; Carlito Lebrilla, professor of chemistry; and Suzanne Miyamoto, associate professor of hematology and oncology.

UC Davis Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center that cares for 9,000 adults and children each year from throughout the Central Valley and inland Northern California. The center is home to the largest program in the region for the diagnosis and treatment of gynecological cancers. The center's gynecological oncologists are pre-eminent providers of cancer treatment and top academic physicians who work as a team with medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurse practitioners, dieticians, genetic counselors and pain specialists to develop individualized treatment plans for each patient. For more information, visit www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cancer.

For more information about ovarian cancer, visit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Web site at www.ovarian.org.