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Yale Cancer Center and School of Public Health Receive Grant to Study Lifestyle Intervention in Women with Ovarian Cancer

March 15, 2022

The National Cancer Institute recently awarded Yale Cancer Center and Yale School of Public Health a new U01 cooperative agreement grant to support research into the impact of diet and exercise for women with ovarian cancer. Melinda Irwin, PhD, MPH, the Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology and Associate Dean of Research at the Yale School of Public Health, and Associate Director (Population Sciences) at Yale Cancer Center will lead the research project, “Trial of Exercise and Lifestyle (TEAL) in Women with Ovarian Cancer.” The grant funding will enable Dr. Irwin and colleagues to investigate ways to improve treatment outcomes via diet and exercise in women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy, with 90% of women diagnosed receiving chemotherapy. Timely and successful completion of chemotherapy is critical, as delayed or reduced chemotherapy dosage for ovarian cancer is associated with decreased survival; yet chemotherapy dose delays and dose reductions are common (~50% of ovarian cancer patients), with the primary reason for dose delays and reductions being chemotoxicity.

Tracy Crane, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Miami, is the co-principal investigator on the trial. Together, Drs. Irwin and Crane will work in collaboration with Yale Cancer Center members Elena Ratner, MD, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, Peter Schwartz, MD, John Slade Ely Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Brenda Cartmel, PhD, Senior Research Scientist in and Lecturer in Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases), Leah Ferrucci, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases), and Tara Sanft MD, Associate Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology), to execute the project plan.

The study will enroll 200 (100 non-Hispanic White and 100 Hispanic) women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and conduct a multi-site randomized trial over 18 weeks. The research team’s hypothesis is that exercise and eating a healthy diet will improve chemotherapy toxicity and treatment adherence and efficacy, and in turn, improve ovarian cancer prognosis. Dietitians Maura Harrigan, MS, RDN, CSO and Courtney McGowan, RD, will be critical in helping with the diet intervention, and Linda Gottlieb, MA, CPT, CET, will assist with the exercise intervention.

Few studies have examined the role of lifestyle factors during cancer treatment and how lifestyle behaviors may improve treatment adherence, toxicity, and efficacy. “We are hopeful that the results of this study will help to accelerate a paradigm shift where patients will routinely receive nutrition and exercise programming as standard of care in tandem with their cancer treatment,” Dr. Irwin said. “I look forward to launching the TEAL study with my colleagues in the coming months.”

Submitted by Emily Montemerlo on March 15, 2022