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Award-winning DVD offers education‚ support for ovarian cancer patients

Melissa Geller, M.D., was a second-year fellow at the University of Minnesota when she first fully grasped the need for quality patient education materials for women with ovarian cancer.

While making rounds for newly diagnosed patients‚ Geller was often answering questions well into the evening‚ and she still felt that it wasn’t enough.

Melissa Geller, M.D.

“There is so much unknown at the time of diagnosis‚ so much fear and anxiety that accompanies it‚” says Geller‚ now a gynecologic oncologist and assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women’s Health. “I started to think of ways that I could leave as few questions unanswered as possible.”

Geller’s solution: Living with Ovarian Cancer‚ a DVD that she and North Carolina-based Contrast Pictures released in November 2005 to increase patients’ knowledge about the disease. The video features stories of four women who have been living with ovarian cancer for years‚ along with insights from family members and medical professionals.

The video covers a spectrum of topics that women with ovarian cancer face: diagnosis‚ causes‚ treatment‚ possible side effects of treatment (and how to manage them)‚ risk of recurrence‚ clinical trial information‚ emotional repercussions‚ and getting support throughout the process.

“So far it’s been pretty well received by both experts and patients who have seen it‚” Geller says.

“The DVD deals very honestly with the issue while at the same time sending the hopeful and realistic message that people can have a good quality of life with ovarian cancer.”

The piece also has received critical acclaim. Living With Ovarian Cancer received a gold “Aster Award” for excellence in medical marketing and was selected as a finalist for the 2006 International Health & Medical Media Awards—also known as the Freddie awards—in the health education and oncology categories.

As a follow-up to Living with Ovarian Cancer‚ Geller is now conducting research to determine whether the educational DVD can make a difference for women diagnosed with the disease. Ovarian cancer patients who participate in the study will be randomly assigned to one of two groups: those who receive the DVD or those who do not. Geller hopes to determine whether viewing the video can reduce anxiety and fear‚ increase knowledge about ovarian cancer‚ increase satisfaction with initial treatment‚ and help patients cope with the disease.

For more information on how you can make this DVD more widely available or support Geller’s research‚ please contact Kari Oeltjen at 612-625-6495 or k.oeltjen@mmf.umn.edu.

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