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Annika Idahl lab

Research group We conduct research on the prevention of ovarian cancer, as well as risk profiling and early detection.

Ovarian cancer affects nearly 700 women per year in Sweden and is the gynecological cancer with the highest mortality rate. Symptoms are usually vague and ovarian cancer is often detected at late stages. In the 21st century, evidence has accumulated that the most common and aggressive forms of ovarian cancer begin in the fallopian tubes.
For individuals with a known hereditary increased risk of ovarian cancer, surgical removal of both fallopian tubes and ovaries is currently recommended at the age of 35–50. The backdrop of removing the ovaries is early menopause. It is also suggested that most women undergoing an intra-abdominal surgical procedure could have their fallopian tubes, but not the ovaries, removed for ovarian cancer prevention. In two national clinical trials, we investigate whether it is possible to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer even in women without a known increased risk by removing the fallopian tubes at the same time as performing hysterectomy or sterilisation. In the first stage, we look at whether this can be done without increased risks of complications or negative impact on the function of the ovaries.
Fallopian tube inflammation and the resulting damage could theoretically increase the risk of developing cancer. We use national Swedish registers to compare those who have developed ovarian cancer with those who have not, to see if fallopian tube inflammation is associated with an increased risk or worse prognosis. One of the most common causes of fallopian tube inflammation in Sweden is infection with Chlamydia trachomatis, which is why tissue samples after surgery and blood samples taken during health check-ups are examined for the presence of Chlamydia or antibodies against it.
Screening for ovarian cancer with currently available methods is not effective and does not reduce mortality from this disease. By identifying better markers for increased risk, risk-reducing surgery can be offered with greater precision than today. There are extensive health data and high-quality blood samples from large, population-based cohorts in northern Sweden, as well as blood and tissue samples collected from women who have undergone ovarian surgery. By combining these data and samples with metabolomic, proteomic and genomic approaches, we hope to further refine risk profiling and early diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
By combining refined risk profiling with and improved methods of screening and preventive measures, this has the potential to reduce the incidence of, and morbidity and mortality from, ovarian cancer.

Head of research

Annika Idahl
Associate professor, senior consultant (attending) physician


Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Clinical Sciences

Research area


External funding

Cancerforskningsfonden Norrland, Swedish Cancer Society, Lions Umeå, Region Västerbotten

External funding

Latest update: 2023-10-31