Risk of Death Doubles For Early Stage Ovarian Cancer Patients Who Are Not Checked For Lymph Node Metastases

University of California Davis Cancer Center and California Cancer Registry researchers determined that the risk of death doubles for those women with apparent early stage ovarian cancer who are not checked for lymph node metastases.

Dr. Gary Leiserowitz, Chief of Gynecologic Oncology at the UC Davis Cancer Center & Rosemary Cress, Research Program Director at the California Cancer Registry, reported that early-stage ovarian cancer patients had nearly twice the risk of death if they were not tested for lymph node metastases.

A team of University of California (UC) Davis Cancer Center and California Cancer Registry researchers determined that more than a quarter of women with apparent early ovarian cancer do not receive lymph node biopsies, which have been shown to improve patient survival.

For the study, the researchers identified patients diagnosed with apparent early-stage epithelial ovarian cancer between 1998 and 2000 from cancer registries in New York and California, then collected detailed information from patient medical records on the types of surgical staging procedures performed on 721 of the patients.

The study set forth the critical findings below.

  • Approximately 90 percent of patients had removal of the omentum and evaluation of the bowel serosa and mesentery.  In contrast, only 72 percent of patients with presumed early-stage disease had lymph nodes from the pelvis and abdomen tested for signs of cancer spread, despite the existence of published, professional guidelines for proper staging of the disease.
  • Only lymph node assessment (as well as node assessment combined with washings and omentectomy) had a statistically significant association with improved survival.
  • The five-year survival for women with early-stage disease who had the node biopsies was 84 percent, compared with 69 percent of those who did not have the tests.
  • Patients who did not have lymph node assessment had nearly twice the risk of death as those who did.
  • Stratification of patients based upon receipt of chemotherapy revealed that lack of lymph node sampling had an effect only on patients who also received no chemotherapy.  Thus, only when patients did not have the lymph nodes tested did chemotherapy improve survival, a finding the researchers attribute to the role chemotherapy likely plays in killing cancer cells that have spread beyond the ovaries.
  • Gynecologic oncologists were nearly six-and-a-half times more likely to perform lymph node biopsies than other surgical specialists, and nearly four times more likely to perform all recommended staging biopsies. (See “Additional Information” below for prior medical study findings, regarding the importance of gynecologic oncologists in the evaluation and treatment of ovarian cancer.)

The study results were published online last week in the journal Gynecology Oncology and will be published in the journal’s April print edition.

“Early-stage patients had nearly twice the risk of death if they didn’t have the lymph nodes tested,” said Rosemary Cress, who is an epidemiologist and research program director at the California Cancer Registry, associate adjunct professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at UC Davis, and the study’s lead author. “Hopefully, this should raise the awareness among physicians that it’s really important to do lymph node biopsies in these patients.”

Why some surgeons don’t remove lymph nodes during ovary surgery for early-stage cancer patients is a matter of speculation, said Gary Leiserowitz, M.D., chief of Gynecologic Oncology at the UC Davis Cancer Center, who is the senior author of the study. But the tests are important, he said, because patients with positive lymph nodes are given a more advanced stage diagnosis and prescribed follow-up chemotherapy treatment.

“Depending on the knowledge and expertise of the surgeon doing the operation, they may not know they need to do all the biopsies,” said Dr. Leiserowitz. “The literature is pretty consistent in showing that the people who have specialized knowledge in this – gynecological oncologists – are much more likely to follow the guidelines.”

Another reason some surgeons may not perform the lymph node biopsies, he said, is that they don’t believe the patient would benefit, either because of advanced age or because they have other serious illnesses, or both.

“If we have a patient who is medically unsuitable because of their age or medical conditions and is not a candidate for chemotherapy, you wouldn’t do all the staging biopsies,” said Dr. Leiserowitz. “But for a woman, say in her 40’s who is otherwise healthy, it turns out to be critical, because chemotherapy could be lifesaving.”

Leiserowitz said he hopes the results of the study will help educate the medical community and patients about the value of appropriate cancer treatment.

“If you are going to treat someone with a cancer, you really have an obligation to understand what the published practice guidelines are, and adhere to them as well as you can, or refer the patient to someone else who will,” he said.

The study was paid for with a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About University of California Davis Cancer Center

University of California (UC) Davis Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute- designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its top specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 9,000 adults and children every year, and offer patients access to more than 150 clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program includes more than 280 scientists at UC Davis and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The unique partnership, the first between a major cancer center and national laboratory, has resulted in the discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Through the Cancer Care Network, UC Davis is collaborating with a number of hospitals and clinical centers throughout the Central Valley and Northern California regions to offer the latest cancer-care services. For more information, visit cancer.ucdavis.edu.

About the California Cancer Registry

The California Cancer Registry (CCR) is a program of the California Department of Public Health’s Cancer Surveillance and Research Branch (CSRB), and works in collaboration with the Public Health Institute, regional cancer registries, health care providers, cancer registrars, and cancer researchers throughout California and the nation. CSRB collects, analyzes, and disseminates information on cancer incidence and mortality. The statewide population-based cancer surveillance system monitors the incidence and mortality of specific cancers over time and analyzes differential cancer risks cancer by geographic region, age, race/ethnicity, sex, and other social characteristics of the population. It gathers cancer incidence data through CCR, and conducts and collaborates with other researchers on special cancer research projects concerning the etiology, treatment, risk factors, and prevention of specific cancers. In addition, the system is designed to monitor patient survival with respect to the type of cancer, extent of disease, therapy, demographics, and other parameters of prognostic importance. In general, data generated from CCR are utilized as set forth below.

  • Monitor the amount of cancer and cancer incidence trends by geographic area and time in order to detect potential cancer problems of public health significance in occupational settings and the environment, and to assist in their investigation.
  • Provide information to stimulate the development and targeting of resources to benefit local communities, cancer patients, and their families.
  • Promote high-quality epidemiologic and clinical research by enabling population-based studies to be performed that can provide better information for cancer control.
  • Inform health professionals and educate citizens regarding specific health risks, early detection, and treatment for cancers known to be elevated in their communities.
  • Respond to public concerns and questions about cancer.

For more information, visit http://www.ccrcal.org/.

Sources:

Additional Information — The Role of Gynecologic Oncologists and Their Impact on Survival:

FDA Clears Vermillion’s “OVA1” Test To Determine Likelihood of Ovarian Cancer In Women With Pelvic Mass

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared a test that can help detect ovarian cancer in a pelvic mass that is already known to require surgery. The test, called OVA1, helps patients and health care professionals decide what type of surgery should be done and by whom.

First Lab Test That Can Indicate Ovarian Cancer Prior To Biopsy Or Exploratory Surgery

U.S. Food & Drug Administration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the OVA1™ Test, the first blood test that, prior to surgery, can help physicians determine if a woman is at risk for a malignant pelvic mass. OVA1 is the first FDA-cleared laboratory test that can indicate the likelihood of ovarian cancer with high sensitivity prior to biopsy or exploratory surgery, even if radiological test results fail to indicate malignancy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the OVA1™ Test [formerly, the Ovarian Tumor Triage Test], the first blood test that, prior to surgery, can help physicians determine if a woman is at risk for a malignant pelvic mass. OVA1 is the first FDA-cleared laboratory test that can indicate the likelihood of ovarian cancer with high sensitivity prior to biopsy or exploratory surgery, even if radiological test results fail to indicate malignancy. The test was developed by Vermillion, Inc. (formerly, Ciphergen Biosystems, Inc. ), a molecular diagnostics company, in cooperation with Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of cancer diagnostics. Quest Diagnostics, which is a long-time investor in research and development of the OVA1 technology, has exclusive rights to offer the test to the clinical reference laboratory market in the U.S. for three years.

“When combined with other clinical information, the OVA1 biomarker panel can help assess the likelihood of malignancy of an ovarian tumor before surgery and facilitate decisions about referral to a gynecologic oncologist,” said Frederick R. Ueland, M.D., principal investigator of the prospective, multi-center OVA1 clinical trial. Dr. Ueland is an associate professor gynecologic oncology at the University of Kentucky‘s Markey Cancer Center.

The OVA1 Test is an in vitro diagnostic multivariate index [assay] (IVDMIA) test that combines the results of five immunoassays using a proprietary unique algorithm to produce a single numerical score indicating a women’s likelihood of malignancy. The OVA1 Test provides a new option in the pre-operative evaluation to help physicians assess if a pelvic mass is benign or malignant in order to help determine whether to refer a woman to a gynecologic oncologist for surgery. Numerous clinical practice guidelines recommend that women with ovarian cancer be under the care of a gynecologic oncologist. However, only an estimated one third of women who undergo surgery for possible ovarian cancer are referred to these specialist surgeons for their surgery.(1)

Vermillion received the Society for Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO) Basic Science Poster Award for an abstract on the performance of its OVA1 Test presented at SGO’s 38th Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer in 2007. In reviewing the test application, the FDA evaluated results of a prospective, double-blind clinical trial which included 27 demographically mixed sites representative of institutions where ovarian tumor subjects may undergo a gynecological examination.

“Surgery in the hands of a gynecologic oncologist is usually associated with more favorable patient outcomes,” said Jon R. Cohen, M.D., chief medical officer and senior vice president, Quest Diagnostics. “Physicians often do not know if a woman’s pelvic mass is malignant or benign until she undergoes surgery. The OVA1 Test is the first FDA-cleared blood test to help clinicians determine whether to refer a woman to a gynecologic oncologist or have a gynecologic oncologist present at the time of surgery. We believe this test will help drive more favorable patient outcomes.”

“Unfortunately, advances in ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment are few and far between. It is fitting that September, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, marks FDA’s clearance of OVA1, a test that represents an important step forward toward improved outcomes,” said Gail S. Page, executive chairperson of the board of directors of Vermillion. “Quest Diagnostics had the foresight to recognize the potential value of this novel multivariate assay and supported its development. We look forward to collaborating to bring this new diagnostic option to the many women who will benefit from specialist care.”

Ueland

"When combined with other clinical information, the OVA1 biomarker panel can help assess the likelihood of malignancy of an ovarian tumor before surgery and facilitate decisions about referral to a gynecologic oncologist," said Frederick R. Ueland, M.D., principal investigator of the prospective, multi-center OVA1 clinical trial. Dr. Ueland is an associate professor gynecologic oncology at the University of Kentucky's Markey Cancer Center.

The FDA clearance of OVA1 makes Quest Diagnostics the only diagnostic testing company to offer FDA cleared tests for ovarian cancer in the pre- and post-surgical settings. In addition to offering the OVA1 Test, Quest Diagnostics was the first laboratory company to provide a new lab test that the FDA cleared in the third quarter of 2008 as an aid for monitoring for recurrence of epithelial ovarian cancer.

The OVA1 Test will be available for physician use in the fourth quarter of this year.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in women.(2) Approximately 21,600 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2009, and approximately 14,600 women will die of the disease.(3)

About the OVA1 Test

The OVA1 Test is a qualitative serum test that combines the results of five immunoassays into a single numerical score. It is indicated for women who meet the following criteria: over age 18, ovarian adnexal mass present for which surgery is planned, and not yet referred to an oncologist. The test utilizes five well-established biomarkers — Transthyretin (TT or prealbumin), Apolipoprotein A-1 (Apo A-1), Beta2-Microglobulin (Beta2M), Transferrin (Tfr) and Cancer Antigen 125 (CA 125 II) — and a proprietary algorithm to determine the likelihood of malignancy in women with pelvic mass for whom surgery is planned.

The OVA1 Test is an aid to further assess the likelihood that malignancy is present when the physician’s independent clinical and radiological evaluation does not indicate malignancy. The test should not be used without an independent clinical/radiological evaluation and is not intended to be a screening test or to determine whether a patient should proceed to surgery. Incorrect use of the OVA1 Test carries the risk of unnecessary testing, surgery, and/or delayed diagnosis.

About Vermillion

Vermillion, Inc. is dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of novel high-value diagnostic tests that help physicians diagnose, treat and improve outcomes for patients. Vermillion, along with its prestigious scientific collaborators, has diagnostic programs in oncology, hematology, cardiology and women’s health. Vermillion is based in Fremont, California. Additional information about Vermillion can be found on the Web at www.vermillion.com.

About Quest Diagnostics

Quest Diagnostics is the world’s leading provider of diagnostic testing, information and services that patients and doctors need to make better healthcare decisions. The company offers the broadest access to diagnostic testing services through its network of laboratories and patient service centers, and provides interpretive consultation through its extensive medical and scientific staff. Quest Diagnostics is a pioneer in developing innovative diagnostic tests and advanced healthcare information technology solutions that help improve patient care. Additional company information is available at www.QuestDiagnostics.com.

(1) Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 98, No. 3, February 1, 2006

(2) Greenlee RT, Murray T, Bolden S, Wingo PA. Cancer statistics, 2000. CA Cancer J Clin. 2000;50(1):7-33

(3) 2009 American Cancer Society [Leading Sites of New Cancer Cases and Deaths—2009 Estimates]

Contacts:
Quest Diagnostics:
Media: Wendy Bost 973-520-2800
Investors: Kathleen Valentine 973-520-2900

Vermillion:
Jill Totenberg, he Totenberg Group Tel: 212 994 7363
jtotenberg@totenberggroup.com

Select FDA Comments:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today cleared a test that can help detect ovarian cancer in a pelvic mass that is already known to require surgery. The test, called OVA1, helps patients and health care professionals decide what type of surgery should be done and by whom.

OVA1 identifies some women who will benefit from referral to a gynecological oncologist for their surgery, despite negative results from other clinical and radiographic tests for ovarian cancer. If other test results suggest cancer, referral to an oncologist is appropriate even with a negative OVA1 result.

OVA1 should be used by primary care physicians or gynecologists as an adjunctive test to complement, not replace, other diagnostic and clinical procedures.

OVA1 uses a blood sample to test for levels of five proteins that change due to ovarian cancer. The test combines the five separate results into a single numerical score between 0 and 10 to indicate the likelihood that the pelvic mass is benign or malignant.

OVA1 is intended only for women, 18 years and older, who are already selected for surgery because of their pelvic mass. It is not intended for ovarian cancer screening or for a definitive diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Interpreting the test result requires knowledge of whether the woman is pre- or post-menopausal.

Sources:

Young Early-Stage Ovarian Cancer Patients Can Preserve Fertility

A new study finds that young women with early-stage ovarian cancer can preserve future fertility by keeping at least one ovary or the uterus without increasing the risk of dying from the disease. The study is published in the September 15, 2009 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

A new study finds that young women with early-stage ovarian cancer can preserve future fertility by keeping at least one ovary or the uterus without increasing the risk of dying from the disease. The study is published in the September 15, 2009 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

fertility

... “Given the potential reproductive and nonreproductive benefits of ovarian and uterine preservation, the benefits of conservative surgical management should be considered in young women with ovarian cancer” ...

Most cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed at later stages and in older women. However, up to 17 percent of ovarian tumors occur in women 40 years of age or younger, many of whom have early stage disease. Surgery for ovarian cancer usually involves complete removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) and ovaries, which not only results in the loss of fertility, but also subjects young women to the long-term consequences of estrogen deprivation.

Jason Wright

Jason Wright, M.D., Assistant Professor, OB/GYN, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York City, NY

Researchers led by Jason Wright, M.D., of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City conducted a study to examine the safety of fertility-conserving surgery in premenopausal women with ovarian cancer. This type of surgery conserves at least one ovary or the uterus.

The investigators analyzed data from women 50 years of age or younger who were diagnosed with early stage (stage I) ovarian cancer between 1988 and 2004 and who were registered in the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database, a population-based cancer registry that includes approximately 26 percent of the US population. Patients who had both of their ovaries removed were compared with those who had only the cancerous ovary removed. A second analysis examined uterine conservation verus hysterectomy.

For their first analysis, the researchers identified 1,186 ovarian cancer patients. While most had both ovaries removed, about one in three (36 percent) had one ovary conserved. They found those in whom one ovary was saved had similar survival for up to at least five years.

To examine the effect of uterine preservation, the investigators studied a total of 2,911 women. While most of the women underwent hysterectomy, about one in four (23 percent) had uterine preservation. Uterine preservation also had no effect on survival.

Women who were younger, who were diagnosed in more recent years, and who resided in the eastern or western United States were more likely to undergo ovarian or uterine conservation.

These results are promising for the many young women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. An estimated 21,650 women in the United States were diagnosed with the disease in 2008. “Given the potential reproductive and nonreproductive benefits of ovarian and uterine preservation, the benefits of conservative surgical management should be considered in young women with ovarian cancer,” the authors concluded.

Source:  Wright JD, Shah M, Mathew L, et. al.  Fertility preservation in young women with epithelial ovarian cancer. CANCER; Published Online: August 10, 2009 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.24461); Print Issue Date: September 15, 2009.

Comment: The key to this study is the concept that fertility preservation “should be considered in young women with ovarian cancer.”  As part of this consideration, the patient’s subtype of ovarian cancer may play an important role as well.  For example, a diagnosis of ovarian clear cell adenocarcinoma (OCCA) in a young adult woman should create a moment of pause in regard to fertility-sparing. The OCCA subtype of epithelial ovarian cancer can be extremely chemoresistant (even during first-line treatment), especially if the tumor histology indicates that the tumor possesses a dominant clear cell component or is a pure form of OCCA.  In addition, OCCA is a rare form of epithelial ovarian cancer in women worldwide (with the exception of Japanese foreign nationals). My hypothetical does not mean that fertility sparing should not be considered in the event of a OCCA diagnosis, it simply means that each woman should carefully discuss fertility-sparing with her board-certified gynecologic oncologist based upon the specific facts of her case, including tumor histology.

The Rock Band “N.E.D.”: Their Medical Skills Save Many; Their Music Could Save Thousands

When spoken by a doctor, the medical term “N.E.D.” – No Evidence of Disease – is music to the ears of an ovarian cancer survivor.   A band of doctors, called “N.E.D.,” wants to be music to the ears of the general public when it comes to raising awareness about women’s cancers. …During the day, this eclectic group of highly skilled physicians perform under the bright lights of the operating room while caring for women who are battling gynecological cancers.  By night, these physicians turn into artists who play a mix of rock and alternative rock music to give a voice to the needs, struggles, and triumphs of their cancer patients. … Victor Hugo, the French author of the classic novels Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), once said, “music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”  The band N.E.D. believes in the same principle when it comes to the promotion of gynecologic cancer awareness and education through music.  The N.E.D. band members will save many women’s lives throughout their medical careers; however, they could very well save thousands of lives through the educational cancer awareness message brought to light through their music.

Explanation of LOGO:Pink for breast cancer, yellow is the symbolic color for hope, teal for gyn cancer, the other three colors are just complimentary, but there are six colors total, one for each band member.

Explanation of the N.E.D. Logo: Pink for Breast Cancer, Yellow is the Symbolic Color for Hope, Teal for Gynecologic Cancer; the Remaining Three Colors are Just Complimentary, But There Are Six Colors Total, One for Each Band Member. (Photo Source: Motema Music)

When spoken by a doctor, the medical term “N.E.D.” – No Evidence of Disease – is music to the ears of an ovarian cancer survivor.   A band of doctors, called “N.E.D.,” wants to be music to the ears of the general public when it comes to raising awareness about women’s cancers.  Yes, you read that correctly, six gynecologic oncologists want to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and other women’s cancers through their music. During the day, this eclectic group of highly skilled physicians perform under the bright lights of the operating room while caring for women who are battling gynecological cancers.  By night, these physicians turn into artists who play a mix of rock and alternative rock music to give a voice to the needs, struggles, and triumphs of their cancer patients.

The members of N.E.D. are set forth below.

On drums and percussion as well as guitar is Nimesh P. Nagarsheth, Assistant Professor, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, New York & Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Englewood, New Jersey.

On lead guitar is William E. Winter, III, M.D., Northwest Cancer Specialists, Portland, Oregon.

On bass guitar, harmonica and vocals, William R. (Rusty) Robinson, M.D. FACS, FACOG. , Professor, Director of Clinical Research, Harrington Cancer Center, Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Amarillo, Texas.

On guitar and lead vocals, John F. Boggess, M.D., Associate Professor, Fellowship Program Director, Gynecology Oncology, Director, Robotic Assisted Medicine Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

On lead vocals and guitar, Joanie Hope, M.D., Fellow, Gynecologic Oncology, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, New York.

On guitar, John T. Soper, M.D., The Hendricks Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Backstory

Most of the N.E.D. band members played in musical groups during their youth. Nimesh Nagarsheth’s interest in music relates back to his college days. As a student at the University of Wisconsin, Nagarsheth focused on musical percussion study, but later, due to pragmatism, he refocused his concentration on medicine. “I saw many really talented peers who worked really hard and were not getting jobs as musicians.” “Music has always been a passion of mine, ever since I was a child,” said Nagarsheth,. “But to be honest with you, I didn’t really develop an interest in medicine until I went to college.”

While in medical school in Oregon, John Boggess played in a band with other medical students in the 1980s to earn rent money, and he developed a small following.  But, Boggess gave up musical pursuits to practice medicine.  Joanie Hope said that she has been musical since she was a child: “When I was in medical school, I wrote lots of songs with medical themes, because medicine is, after all, about people and their troubles. When I was in residency, I didn’t have time to do much with music, but now that I’ve found this band, I’m able to tap into my creative energy again.”  John Soper played in high school and college bands, and as an adult was a member of a local bluegrass group called Piney Mountain Boys, which split up in 1989.

Oddly enough, the creation of N.E.D. arose from an immediate need for entertainment at the 2008 annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO).  In short order, the six gynecologic oncologists met and rehearsed in preparation for the gig.  Notably, with the exception of John Soper and John Boggess, the band members never met, much less played together. They rehearsed one night, and performed the next. William Winter,  a band member, said he and his colleagues were game to play for their peers, but noted that “[n]one of us are known for our music.” As stated in the vernacular by John Soper, the goal “was to not suck.” Despite the band’s hasty creation and short preparation time, the doctors who attended the SGO meeting loved the band’s music and rocked out on Led Zeppelin and Allman Brothers Band songs. The band played the 30 or so classic covers that they rehearsed, and when the large crowd of doctors asked for more, the band performed the same songs again. “People were sticking around,” Winter said. “We didn’t get booed off the stage. We actually got asked to do some encores. We played everything we know. We had to replay songs.” Marsha Wilson, communications director for the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF), said ” “Everybody went crazy. They were really good.”

After receiving positive feedback for its performance at the 2008 SGO Annual Meeting, N.E.D. went on to perform at the First National Gynecologic Cancer Symposium and played at Arlington National Cemetery in front of the memorial to military women who died in the line of duty. After several more successful gigs, the seeds were planted for a band that would be devoted entirely to raising gynecologic cancer awareness and funding for disease screening, clinical trials, and patient education.

The Band’s Mission of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness & Education

“Do you ever see the words gynecologic oncology in print?” asked John Boggess.  Boggess’ comment carries the underlying message that gynecological cancers are often overlooked, and reveals the overarching charitable mission of N.E.D. In a world where “me first” mentality is commonplace, and rock stars drive ultra-luxury sports cars, run with entourages, and make a habit of attending rehab, these multifaceted doctors simply want to raise the general public’s awareness about women’s cancers.  “We think that people need to understand about these diseases and the women who have them,” said John Boggess. “So anything that we can do outside of the surgery we do every day in the operating room and in the clinic, we find to be an incredible privilege.”

In 2008, several band members were asked about the future potential of N.E.D. as a vehicle for cancer awareness.  At that time, Joanie Hope stated that she wanted a future for the band that would “speak to people” through music. “I want people to listen to us at home so that our music and lyrics reflect what they are feeling if they have cancer, or someone they love does,” said Hope. Nimesh Nagarsheth responded, “I’d like us to make a CD.  We could sell them at concerts as a fundraising tool, and we could put educational inserts about women’s cancer inside the case.  Joanie [Hope] and I, as the ‘New York division of N.E.D.,’ have already written ten original songs, some with lyrics about cancer …”

Each original song written by the band was inspired by the doctors’ work with women’s cancers.  Joanie Hope wrote a song entitled, “Rhythm Heals,” which is intended to inspire her patients.  “It encompasses what we’re all about,” said Hope. “There are many ways to heal beyond what we do as doctors. My patients teach me that all the time.” Nimesh Nagarsheth wrote the song “Third-Person Reality” to address a doctor’s struggle to help patients dealing with cancer diagnoses.  “It’s tempting to remove yourself from the situation and be like a third person,” said Nagarsheth, “but we have to overcome that because our patients need us.”  The hard-rocking track “False Pretenses,” written by William Winter and sung by John Boggess, urges genuine communication when time is short due to a patient’s dire diagnosis.

Motéma Music & The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation Take Interest

NED Group Picture

Meet The Band: (Bottom Row) John Boggess; (Center Row, left to right) Nimesh Nagarsheth, Joanie Hope, William Winter, William (Rusty) Robinson; (Top Row) John Soper. (Photo Source: N.E.D. Facebook Page)

The 2008 comments made by Joanie Hope and Nimesh Nagarsheth in regard to N.E.D.’s future were indeed prophetic. Shortly thereafter, the band landed a record deal with Motéma Music, a New York record label that features world music and jazz musicians.  Motéma artist K.J. Denhert is currently working with the band as a performance and songwriting coach. Mario McNulty, who has worked with David Bowie, Linkin’ Park and other classic rock bands, will produce the band’s first album.

N.E.D.’s first album is set for release in November 2009 during Gynecologic Cancer Month. Although the band wants to appeal to cancer patients and their families, William Winter said that they also want to reach others who may not be aware of the other types of cancers that afflict women. Winter’s hope is to “market it to anyone and everyone . . . and have them understand what goes on with women’s cancers, and the pain behind these things and what women feel and what cancer patients feel and go through.”

N.E.D. also receives support from the GCF.  GCF believes that N.E.D.’s efforts are consistent with its charitable and educational mission. In fact, the band will be featured as part of a GCF national campaign, the Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Movement, which is scheduled to kick off in November 2009 in Washington D.C.  Although the band has received support from GCF, additional monies are needed to fund the band’s CD recording and post-production costs. GCF is accepting donations and soliciting funds to support the production of the band’s first CD. Any future proceeds from the sale of the CD and live performances will be donated to the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF) whose mission is to educate the public about gynecologic cancers and support promising research.  You can help by making a donation to the GCF (marked with a designation for “N.E.D.”) through one of the methods provided below.

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Online Contribution (Through the Network for Good):

CLICK HERE to donate now.

By Mail:

Mail your tax deductible contribution to:
The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation
230 W. Monroe, Suite 2528
Chicago, Il. 60606-4703
CLICK HERE for a donation form (Microsoft Word Document) to mail in with your contribution.

By Telephone:

Call GCF at 312-578-1439 and donate with a credit card

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In addition to landing the Motéma record contract, N.E.D. has been invited to appear on “The Bonnie Hunt Show,” and is in discussions with CBS and ABC with respect to potential appearances on “The Early Show” and “Good Morning America,” respectively.  Also, the band hopes to obtain an audience with Oprah Winfrey.

Their Medical Skills Save Many; Their Music Could Save Thousands

The importance of N.E.D. and its mission to raise women’s cancer awareness is best understood through the eyes of a gynecologic cancer patient.  Samantha Hill, one of Nimesh Nagarsheth’s patients, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at a young age.  Samantha says that when she learned that her doctor played in a rock band, she was not surprised. Hill emphasized that it is her greatest hope that N.E.D.’s message gets across to the general public.  “You’re 35 years old and you hear that you have cancer, and you’re in shock,” she recalls. “I felt that he [Nagarsheth] could relate and I think music is a very important tool.  And I think that specifically, ovarian cancer, there’s not much awareness and it’s really a silent killer.”

Victor Hugo, the French author of the classic novels Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), once said, “music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”  The band N.E.D. believes in the same principle when it comes to promotion of gynecologic cancer awareness and education through music.  The N.E.D. band members will save many women’s lives throughout their medical careers; however, they could very well save thousands of lives through the educational cancer awareness message brought to light through their music.

N.E.D. Band Rehearsal 1, December 7, 2008  (Motema artist KJ Denhert working with the band)


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About Gynecologic Cancers & Gynecologic Oncologists

Gynecologic cancers originate in the female reproductive organs, including the cervix, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina and vulva.  Every woman is at risk for developing a gynecologic cancer. It is estimated that there were approximately 78,000 new cases diagnosed, and approximately 28,000 deaths, from gynecologic cancers in the United States during 2008.

Gynecologic oncologists are physicians committed to the comprehensive treatment of women with cancer. After completing four years of medical school and four years of residency in obstetrics and gynecology, these physicians pursue an additional three to four years of training in gynecologic oncology through a rigorous fellowship program overseen by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Gynecologic oncologists are not only trained to be skilled surgeons capable of performing wide-ranging cancer operations, but they are also trained in prescribing the appropriate chemotherapy for those conditions and/or radiation therapy when indicated. Frequently, gynecologic oncologists are involved in research studies and clinical trials that are aimed at finding more effective and less toxic treatments to further advance the field and improve cure rates.  Studies on outcomes from gynecologic cancers, especially ovarian cancer, demonstrate that women treated by a gynecologic oncologist have a better likelihood of prolonged  survival compared to care rendered by non-specialists. Due to their extensive training and expertise, gynecologic oncologists often serve as the “team captain” who coordinates all aspects of a woman’s cancer care and recovery. Gynecologic oncologists understand the impact of cancer and its treatments on all aspects of women’s lives, including future childbearing, sexuality, physical and emotional well-being, and the impact cancer can have on the patient’s whole family.  But, there are only about 1,000 board-certified gynecologic oncologists in the United States.  Women may need to ask their primary care provider for referral to a gynecologic oncologist if a gynecologic cancer is suspected because not all physicians are aware of the practice scope of modern gynecologic oncologists. Women can find a gynecologic oncologist by going online to www.wcn.org and clicking on the find a doctor button. This simple step may be the first stride forward to long-term survivorship and cure.  It’s important to start gynecologic cancer care with the right team and a winning game plan.

About the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure public awareness of gynecologic cancer prevention, early diagnosis and proper treatment. In addition, GCF supports research and training related to gynecologic cancers. GCF advances this mission by increasing public and private funds that aid in the development and implementation of programs to meet these goals. For more information about GCF, its educational materials or research grants, please visit www.thegcf.org or contact GCF Headquarters by phone at 312-578-1439 or by e-mail at info@thegcf.org.  For additional information on gynecologic cancers or a referral to a gynecologic oncologist or a related specialist, please call the toll-free GCF Information Hotline at 800-444-4441.  For more information about women’s cancers, visit GCF’s Women’s Cancer Network Web site:  www.wcn.org. Log on for a confidential risk assessment to learn about your risk for developing gynecologic and breast cancers. Comprehensive information about each gynecologic cancer and breast cancer is available on the site. The site also provides the opportunity to locate a nearby gynecologic oncologist, a step women are urged to take if they suspect or have been diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer.

Primary Sources:

N.E.D. Band Bio, Artist Profile, Motéma Music.

N.E.D. on Facebook.

Doctor (and former Danbury resident) fights cancer with rock ‘n’ roll, by Brian Koonz, The News-Times, Mar. 16, 2009.

UNC doctor-rockers score record deal, by Allen Mask, M.D., News Video Story, WRAL.com, Feb. 5, 2009 (CLICK HERE to watch video)

Medicine Meets Music: Surgeons Form Unusual Rock Band, by Gillian Granoff, Education Update Online, Feb. 2009.

Album will benefit gynecological cancer causes, by Sarah Avery – Staff Writer, The News & Observer, Jan. 30, 2009.

Band of Doctors, English, Music, Videos, Franz Strasser Blog, Dec. 17, 2008 (video news story).

Cancer doc rocks out, lands contract, tour next?, By Noelle Crombie, The Oregonian, KATU.com, Dec. 12, 2008.

Cancer docs form rock ‘n’ roll band and land a record deal, by Noelle Crombie, The Oregonian, Dec. 9, 2008 (story includes free MP3 clip of the N.E.D. song “False Pretenses”)

Doctors Double As Rock Stars To Help Raise Cancer Awareness, by Kafi Drexel, NY1 News, Dec. 9, 2008 (including video news story).

All hail the rock docs!, by Bill Egbert, Health Section, Daily News, December 8, 2008.

GynOncs Rock at Society Meetings, Band Looks Forward to Bigger & Better Gigs, While Raising Awareness of Women’s Cancers, by Margot J. Fromer, Oncology Times, Aug. 14, 2008. [PDF Document].

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