Trial to test if pill can prevent abdominal cancer in at risk women


Some women who undergo preventative surgery to avoid reproductive cancers go on to develop incurable abdominal cancer. A clinical trial, involving the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, in collaboration with ANZGOG and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, is testing a way to possibly prevent this.

Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation have increased lifetime risk of ovarian and fallopian tube cancers, so many opt to have their reproductive organs removed. At the time of preventive surgery, some women will have a pre-cancerous "serous tubal intraepithelial carcinoma”, or STIC, in their fallopian tube.

Latest research (by Steenbeek et. al.) published in the June print edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) found women with STIC at the time of surgery had an almost 30% chance of developing abdominal cancer within 10 years. Women without STIC had less than a 1% chance of abdominal cancer.

In an accompanying editorial also published in the JCO, Professor Kelly-Anne Phillips said the Steenbeek research confirmed that STIC was a “strong predictor” of which of these women would later develop abdominal cancers.

Prof Phillips is also leading the STICs and STONEs clinical trial, which is testing if a commonly available pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication can prevent STIC. Read more about the trial on the STICs & STONEs website.

“The benefit of using an established drug in this trial is that it is really simple to administer, cheap, and has a well understood and generally minimal side-effect profile,” says Prof Phillips who is Principal Investigator for the trial in Australia, and a Consultant Medical Oncologist and Senior Strategic Research Leader at Peter Mac.

“This is an exciting trial because it might provide a new way to prevent cancer in these women with an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 abnormality.”

The trial is open to women with an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 abnormality who are planning to undergo preventative surgery within the next two years. Trial participants take a pill daily – either the drug or a placebo – to determine if the drug is able to reduce incidence of STIC.

The STICs & STONEs trial is led by the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, jointly conducted by the University of Sydney NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre (NHMRC CTC) and Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group, funded by the NHMRC. The research project has been authorised by Sydney Local Health District Ethics Review Committee (RPAH Zone), and in Victoria and Western Australia under the National Mutual Acceptance Initiative.

Women interested in taking part in the trial can call 1800 111 581, or email





For more information or to arrange an interview, call the Peter Mac Communications team on 0417 123 048.


About Peter Mac

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is a world-leading cancer research, education and treatment centre and Australia’s only public health service solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer.



The NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre (CTC) is a flagship research centre based at the University of Sydney. They run studies designed to improve global health outcomes by bringing together world leading experts in healthcare, clinical trials, and related research methods.



The Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG) is the peak, national gynaecological cancer clinical trials organisation for Australia and New Zealand. Their purpose is to improve outcomes and quality of life for women with gynaecological cancer through conducting and promoting cooperative clinical trials and undertaking multidisciplinary research into the causes, prevention and treatments of gynaecological cancer.