Newswise — The Gilda Radner Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry, established in 1981 to track families who have included at least two first degree relatives diagnosed with ovarian cancer, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. M. Steven Piver, MD, former Chairman of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, initiated the Registry in an attempt to document the number of cases of familial ovarian cancer in the United States.

"When I began my career, it was unknown that ovarian cancer could be an inherited disease. However, in 1977, I met a family who had five women in three generations with ovarian cancer," said Dr. Piver. "In 1978, I met a second family with a similar familial medical history. I became suspicious that this might be a trend we needed to track."

Within two years the Registry had enrolled 94 families in which multiple first-degree relatives were affected by ovarian cancer. In 1988, Dr. Piver was a medical consultant to Gilda Radner, the comedic actress who died of ovarian cancer in 1989. Subsequent media coverage encouraged many more families to contact the Registry and by the end of that year, over 450 families with familial ovarian cancer had been enrolled. Due to her efforts to raise awareness of her disease, the Registry was renamed the Gilda Radner Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry in 1990. "We now have over 1,800 families with familial ovarian cancer registered in the database," said Cathy Fahey, Project Director, Gilda Radner Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry. "We continue to enroll an average of 50 families each year from all over the world."

Some other highlights over the past 25 years:"¢ Observations from Dr. Piver and members of the Registry and information gathered from participants in the Registry helped to identify the link between BRCA1 and BRCA2 and ovarian cancer in 1994."¢ In 1996, Dr. Piver and Gilda Radner's husband, Gene Wilder, published "Gilda's Disease: Sharing Personal Experiences and a Medical Perspective on Ovarian Cancer." "¢ Researchers associated with the Registry have published over two dozen research articles in major medical journals. One recent breakthrough from the British Journal of Cancer (2004), "Oral Contraceptive Use and Ovarian Cancer Risk Among Carriers of BRCA1 or BRCA2 Mutations" suggests reduced ovarian cancer risk is associated with long-term oral contraceptive use among carriers of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

For more information, please visit or call 1-800-OVARIAN. This hotline includes cancer information specialists trained to answer questions about ovarian cancer and a HELPLINE made up of volunteers who are all women at high risk for ovarian cancer. "As the Registry continues its research to identify new genes associated with familial ovarian cancer, we believe that we will be able to identify better methods for detecting ovarian cancer and for preventing the disease in future generations," concluded Dr. Piver.

Roswell Park Cancer Institute, founded in 1898, is the nation's first cancer research, treatment and education center, and is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. RPCI is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation's leading cancer centers. For more information, visit the RPCI website at, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or e-mail [email protected].

Register for reporter access to contact details