Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) have made a possible advancement in the way ovarian cancer is treated.
Using the latest techniques and taking a new approach involving studying a smaller sample and deeper analysis of the genetic abnormalities of the metastasized lesions, researchers found clear differences between the genetic expression of the primary ovarian cancer and the metastasized lesions.
This indicates that when treating ovarian cancer with modern medication, consideration needs to be given to how metastasized lesions respond and that may include tailoring the treatment based on combined biology of the primary ovarian cancer and metastatic lesions.
Dr. Jeremie Arash Rafii Tabrizi, Assistant Professor of Genetic Medicine in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Dr. Joel Malek, Director of the Genomics Laboratory and Instructor in Genetic Medicine, have been working closely with institutions in France, Singapore, Canada and the US to produce the report. The study has been published in PLoS ONE, the peer reviewed journal produced by the Public Library of Science.
Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common malignant cancer in women and the leading cause of death from gynecological cancer in the world. The poor overall survival rate of 20 to 30 percent at five years is due to the large tumor burden with extensive metastatic lesions of the peritoneal cavity. In other words, it often goes undetected until it has spread to other parts of the abdomen, becomes metastasized, and this aggressive form of secondary cancer is often what causes death.
“Our findings are significant and important because most patients are diagnosed at the advanced stage of the disease. This means there are metastasized lesions present in the abdomen and by studying patients whose primary ovarian cancer is very similar, we have shown that the metastasized lesions, often the most dangerous part of the disease, are different. This means they may respond differently, possibly better, to a different cancer drug,” said Dr. Rafii. “Past research has focused on the primary cancer, often looking at the genomics of hundreds of tumors. Our approach is different because we decided to focus our research on the metastasis biology rather than only on the primary tumor.”
According to Dr. Rafii the next step is to produce a larger study to confirm these findings and also to study how different the metastatic lesions are within a single patient. This could open the door to new therapeutic approaches that tailors the treatment to the biology of the metastatic lesions.
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