Dr. Dianne Miller’s tendency to question conventional wisdom has led to a sea of changes in the standard of treatment for the most deadly gynecological cancer. Co-founder of BC’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OVCARE), Dr. Miller is an internationally renowned surgeon, educator, clinician, and researcher. She acknowledges, “If passion is a prerequisite for change, then I think I probably have that.”
As a group, OVCARE has made several transformational discoveries that are fundamentally changing the way people think about ovarian cancer.
First came OVCARE’s pivotal discovery that ovarian cancer is not a single disease but five distinct subtypes that should be treated differently. “In the past these diseases were all treated the same,” Dr. Miller says. “We are now able to develop specific treatments which will improve the outcome for women with these cancers and ultimately save more lives.”
Next, they found that the most common and deadliest type of ovarian cancer arises in the fallopian tubes. This led to a radical new preventative strategy: a simple surgical procedure to remove the fallopian tubes during hysterectomies. Dr. Miller explains that, “Finding a better treatment is great but never getting the cancer in the first place is better!”
OVCARE’s research team is now leading a prevention campaign recommending greater adoption of this procedure worldwide. “We are able to use this knowledge to prevent many of these cancers,” Dr. Miller says. “Our goal is to decrease the incidence of ovarian cancer by 40-50% in the next 20 years.”
Dr. Miller is this year’s recipient of the distinguished Virginia Greene Award. This award, presented by Ovarian Cancer Canada, recognizes an individual’s outstanding contribution to the field of ovarian cancer.