2024 Recipient — Judith Walsh, MD, MPH

headshot style photo of Dr. Judith Walsh, outdoors

Judith Walsh, MD, MPH

Barriers and Facilitators to Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis in a Diverse, Multi-ethnic Cohort

Project Summary

While only 3% of cancers among females in the United States (U.S.) are ovarian cancers (OCs), it is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in women. This is due, in part, to 63% of OCs being diagnosed at an advanced stage. Screening for OC among the general population does not improve mortality and so is not recommended. Survival, however, is greatly enhanced by early detection of ovarian cancer. In addition, Black females have a higher risk of dying from ovarian cancer, in part, due to being diagnosed at later stages. We currently propose a qualitative study of a multi-ethnic, diverse population of women with EOC evaluating perceived barriers and facilitators to early ovarian cancer diagnosis. We will first conduct a series of key informant interviews and focus groups to understand important barriers and facilitators to early diagnosis. Using the results from the focus groups and interviews, we will develop a survey to better understand barriers and facilitators to early ovarian cancer diagnosis. We will administer the survey to 200 women with a diagnosis of OC as well as to 400 women who do not have ovarian cancer. Ultimately the survey results will enhance our understanding of barriers and facilitators to early ovarian cancer diagnosis and will be used to develop and disseminate public health messaging to reduce disparities in ovarian cancer stage at diagnosis.


Dr. Walsh is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF. She is a practicing primary care physician at the UCSF Women’s Health Primary Care Practice and she is a cancer control researcher. Her research focuses on cancer screening, early detection and prevention and other preventive interventions in primary care practice and in diverse populations. She has been funded by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute to conduct research on increasing rates of age-appropriate cancer screening. She has also been funded by the California Tobacco Related Disease Research Program to encourage smoking cessation and lung cancer screening in high risk individuals. She is currently a co-investigator on a CDC funded grant focused on identifying factors that predict early identification of ovarian cancer. In the current study, she and her team will evaluate barriers and facilitators to early diagnosis of ovarian cancer in a multi-ethnic population.