Professor Martha Hickey awarded Cancer Council of Victoria grant

Professor Martha Hickey from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has been awarded a Cancer Council Victoria 2023 Grant-in-Aid for the project she is leading titled Salpingectomy with delayed oophorectomy to prevent ovarian cancer (TUBA WISP II) for cancer therapy.

Professor Martha Hickey Professor Martha Hickey (right).

Professor Hickey leads the research team which includes Dr Antonia Jones, Dr David Wrede, Dr Frances Petry, Professor Stephen Fox, Professor Tom Jobling, Associate Professor Alison Trainer and Dr Joanne de Hullu.

It is well established that risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) prevents ovarian cancer. However, research has shown that removing the ovaries prior to natural menopause may affect physical and mental health, and increase the long-term health risks for conditions such as cardiovascular disease and dementia.

This research will enable Australia’s participation in an international study to determine whether removing the fallopian tubes alone with delayed oophorectomy is as effective as RRSO in preventing ovarian cancer.

This project builds on two previous studies conducted by this research team: TUBA and WISP, which looked at whether the removal of the fallopian tubes only and delaying the removal of the ovaries could improve sexual functional and menopausal systems in patients compared with RSSO.

The findings from this project will directly change global practice in ovarian cancer prevention.

“I am acutely aware of the impact that surgical menopause has on patients undergoing RRSO. If salpingectomy alone is effective in reducing ovarian cancer risk, this would have a profound impact on the short and long-term health of these patients, who could then avoid surgical menopause,” Professor Hickey said.

Cancer Council Victoria’s research grant scheme awarded more than $3 million to 11 research teams and two postdoctoral researchers exploring a wide range of projects aimed at improving cancer care, diagnosis and prevention.