The Gynaecological Cancer Centre in St. James’s Hospital is the largest in Ireland and sees over 300 cases per year. We work closely with scientists and doctors from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) to advance the understanding of cancer and its complications. Ovarian cancers, in particular, are usually diagnosed at a late stage and therefore are more difficult to treat. Much of our research has focused on trying to develop tests that will pick up this cancer early. We are also involved in large studies with other centres in Ireland and abroad to try to find new and better ways to treat gynaecological cancers and to minimize the side effects of treatment.
Development of Biomarkers for Early Diagnosis and Treatment Response
Early detection of gynaecological cancers is important for effective treatment. St. James’s Hospital, in collaboration with TCD and the DISCOVARY Consortium, has identified a number of potential markers for ovarian cancer that can be detected in a blood test. We are currently validating these biomarkers and hope that they can be used in the clinic. We are also looking at markers that might reveal how the cancer will respond to treatment. The research is conducted at the Trinity Centre for Health Sciences on the St. James’s Hospital site.
Prevention of Blood Clots
Gynaecological cancers are associated with a high risk of blood clots, which can be fatal if left untreated. Trinity College research groups are working with gynaecologists in St. James’s Hospital to develop a risk score to determine which patients are likely to get blood clots, particularly after cancer surgery. These patients can then be given a preventative medication that can reduce their risk.
Understanding How Ovarian Cancer Spreads
Ovarian cancer is a metastatic disease, meaning that it can spread throughout the body. It does this by avoiding the body’s natural defences, which usually destroy abnormal cells as they pass through the bloodstream. Scientists in TCD as well as a group in Dublin City University are working to understand this process and to develop a device that can detect cancer cells as they circulate in blood.
How Do I Get Involved?
When you are patient in St. James’s Hospital, you may be approached by a member of a research team who will explain the details of the studies and ask whether you wish to participate. Your doctor will provide you with an information sheet, and you will be asked to sign a consent form. If you agree, a small sample of blood is taken at the same time as the other blood samples required for your treatment. A small piece of tumor tissue may also be taken. Participation is optional, and your treatment will not be affected if you decide not to take part.