Barriers to Quality Care in Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among U.S. women, and is responsible for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.1 According to American Cancer Society estimates, in 2019, ovarian cancer will be responsible for 13,980 deaths. When identified and treated at an early stage (i.e., stage I or II), the five-year survival rate for patients with ovarian cancer is about 94 percent. Unfortunately, most ovarian cancers are not identified until an advanced stage (stage III or IV).1 Multiple factors make early diagnosis a challenge including:

  • early disease may not cause symptoms
  • if symptoms (such as bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, trouble eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms, e.g., urgency or frequency) do appear they are non-specific and are often seen in other non-cancerous diseases
  • currently there is no reliable screening test for ovarian cancer.

Recent advances in understanding the biology of ovarian cancer have led to increased recognition of the role of molecular testing in this disease. According to the most recent guideline recommendations, all women with ovarian cancer should be offered genetic testing.2 However, estimates are that BRCA testing rates for these patients range from only 10 percent to 32 percent. Identification of BRCA mutations is critical for all women with ovarian cancer through early testing to identify both somatic (acquired mutation) and germline (inherited) BRCA mutations because this information may inform treatment decisions.


Project Goal

Through the Barriers to Quality Care in Ovarian Cancer education project, the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), along with partner organizations the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP), the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), and the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), is conducting a quality initiative to identify and provide guidance on key issues related to the optimal care for patients diagnosed with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer across different practice settings in the community.

The project will address coordination and communication within the multidisciplinary cancer care team, helping team members to understand existing barriers and to create and execute process improvement plans to address these barriers.

The project’s primary goal is to support the optimization of delivery of care to patients diagnosed with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer. A secondary goal is to raise awareness of provider education needs, educate the healthcare team, aggregate vetted resources, and establish a strong network of advocacy and professional partners. Through this project, ACCC will identify three cancer programs to participate in a custom-tailored multidisciplinary team process improvement (PI) workshop. These workshops will focus on understanding the optimal delivery of care for patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the community setting by bringing together the multidisciplinary team to review their current processes and outcomes through the lens of team coordination, communication, and quality care for patients with ovarian cancer. During the workshops, these teams will work collaboratively to:

  • Identify barriers currently exist in the management of newly diagnosed patients with ovarian cancer
  • Recognize the drivers of optimal care delivery and management for patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer, with an emphasis on appropriate utilization and timing of biomarker testing
  • Assess solutions currently being employed at community programs to optimize diagnosis and treatment of patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer
  • Understand physician decision-making in the management of patients with ovarian cancer.

If you have questions, please contact Lorna Lucas, Senior Director, ACCC Provider Education.


From Oncology Issues  

Improving the Quality of Care for Persons with Advanced Epithelial Ovarian Cancer

Premal H. Thanker, MD, MS, et al.

More than 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the United States, most with advanced stage disease. With fiveyear cause-specific survival of 47 percent, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States. However, outcomes vary significantly by tumor stage, histologic type, and socio-demographic factors. Disparities in outcomes may be attributable to many factors, including sub-optimal quality of care.4-6 In the United States, fewer than one third of patients with this disease currently receive guideline-concordant care. Recent advancements in curative intent therapeutic options for patients with ovarian cancer put a renewed emphasis on the need for high-quality care delivery.


News & Press

ACCC Launches Quality-of-Care Improvement Initiative for Ovarian Cancer - via Journal of Clinical Pathways

  1. American Cancer Society. Key statistics for ovarian cancer. Available online at:
  2. Society of Gynecologic Oncology. SGO Clinical Practice Statement: Genetic Testing for Ovarian Cancer. 2014.

Our Partners

National Society of Genetic Counselors NSGC logo


Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance Logo


Society of Gynecologic Oncology SGO Logo


Our Supporters


This project is made possible by support from AstraZeneca and Merck.