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Ovarian Cancer Task Force

In 2019, the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (CCCP) at the Rhode Island Department of Health was awarded a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support a demonstration project in raising awareness of Ovarian Cancer and facilitating its rapid diagnosis and treatment. The Partnership joined forces with the CCCP to form an ovarian cancer task force composed of survivors, providers, and other stakeholders with experience in ovarian cancer prevention, treatment, and survivorship. An outline of our project and achievements is below. 

Survivors Teaching Students

Strategy 1: Implement Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance's Survivors Teaching Students Program in RI

Survivors Teaching Students is an evidence-based program that connects ovarian cancer survivors and caregivers with healthcare students in medical education programs. Our task force implemented this program in Rhode Island at the following programs:

  • Nurse Practitioner—University of RI, RI College, Salve Regina University

  • Physician's Assistant—Bryant University, Johnson & Wales University

Provider Webinar

Strategy 2: Organize Ovarian Cancer Updates webinar for PCPs, GYNs, and GI Specialists (CME credit, 2 years post-broadcast) In Spring of 2020 

The task force organized a webinar titled, Identifying Ovarian Cancer Symptoms: Promoting Early Diagnosis, Treatment and Improved Outcomes Through Rapid Referral. The event was delivered by Paul DiSilvestro, MD, Gynecologic Oncologist, on October 26, 2020.


The main target audience for this webinar is Primary Care Physicians and Physician Specialists (gynecologists, gastroenterologists), Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses, Medical Students, Residents, Fellows, and other allied healthcare professionals engaged in the care of women.


Learning Objectives:

  • Identify signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer

  • Describe the incidence of ovarian cancer nationally & in RI

  • Identify survivorship and quality of life advantages for patients referred rapidly after diagnosis to gynecologic oncologists

  • Outline evidence-based guidelines for effective symptom workup and indication for referral to a gynecologic oncologist

  • Identify risk factors including genetic syndromes

  • Understand the national protocols for genetic testing and counseling eligibility

This webinar is available for credit on-demand on the Brown CME website.


Strategy 3: Convene Rhode Island Ovarian Cancer Roundtable (1.5 CME credits available 2 years post-broadcast) in the Spring of 2020

Another component of this demonstration project was a roundtable discussion titled, Making a Difference: Expediting Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer. This event was hosted by leading multidiscipline experts and moderated by Teresa Paiva Weed, JD, President of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, on December 2, 2020.

The main target audience for this webinar is Primary Care Physicians and Physician Specialists (gynecologists, gastroenterologists), Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses, Medical Students, Residents, Fellows, other allied healthcare professionals engaged in the care of women as well as insurers, policymakers, public health professionals, cancer advocacy organizations.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the benefits of rapid referral of women with ovarian cancer to Gynecologic Oncologists

  • Recognize the factors that influence the staging of ovarian cancer at diagnosis

  • Describe how expediting the process of differential diagnosis can improve overall outcomes

  • Appreciate the importance of cancer genetic testing and counseling and its relationship to obtaining a comprehensive cancer family history

  • Have access to tools to empower primary care providers and specialists to improve outcomes for women with ovarian cancer

  • Learn about other collaborative projects associated with this grant including RI’s Survivor’s Teaching Students® and projects completed through groups in Iowa and Michigan

The recording of this roundtable event is available for credit on the Brown CME website.


The final piece of this demonstration project was to create a toolkit for patients and providers to access resources that will enable them to recognize the common symptoms of ovarian cancer and the importance of expediting diagnosis and referral of patients to gynecologic oncologists. This toolkit contains epidemiology resources, guidelines and tools for providers, provider education resources, and patient education resources.

Patient Webinar

The Partnership was pleased to receive additional funding from the CCCP to continue the task force's work through 2021. To round out the educational portion of the project, the group decided to hold a second webinar for patients. The webinar, Empowering Patients to Understand Cancer Genetic Testing and Counseling, was hosted by CURE® and supported by the Rhode Island Department of Health, Women & Infants Hospital, and the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. 

An expert panel of professionals from Women & Infants Hospital and a cancer patient discussed the importance of genetic testing and counseling for patients. Topics included:​

  • Understanding family history and when genetic testing might be needed

  • What one can expect from cancer genetic counseling

  • Feeling empowered by understanding your genetics with testing and counseling

  • Recent developments and advancements in cancer genetic testing

This webinar is available on-demand in the CURE archive.

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