Molecular profiling reveals differences between primary and recurrent ovarian cancers

February 10, 2012

There is a need to analyze tumor specimens at the time of ovarian cancer recurrence, according to a new study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. Researchers used a diagnostic technology called molecular profiling to examine the differences in the molecular characteristics of primary and recurrent ovarian tumors and found significant changes for some biomarkers. This is the first study that examined potential differences in a broad biomarker panel in patient-matched primary versus recurrent ovarian cancers and underscores the importance of analyzing the most current tumor tissue in order to make the most informed decisions about treatment for recurrence.

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly of gynecological cancers, and is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the United States. Treatment for recurrent often follows a trial and error approach in spite of molecular profiling technologies available to inform treatment selection. Profiling technologies may be utilized at the time of ovarian , but the tumor specimens that are analyzed are most often those obtained at initial diagnosis. This profiling of the primary tumor does not take into account changes that occur in recurrent tumors, which may have enabled their survival after chemotherapy treatment.

Lead author Deb Zajchowski, Ph.D., Scientific Director of The Clearity Foundation says, "These results highlight additional challenges for the treatment of recurrent ovarian cancer. The study helps us appreciate the degree to which tumor characteristics that may be useful for making may change over the course of this disease."

Dr. Zajchowski, Clearity Scientific Advisor Beth Y. Karlan, M.D. of Cedar-Sinai's Women's Cancer Program and colleagues analyzed data already collected by The Clearity Foundation and the Diane Barton Database. They employed 18 different immunohistochemical analyses at Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified labs to analyze 43 matched tumor specimens from 19 advanced stage carcinoma patients for a panel of proteins that are correlated with drug response, discovering that expression levels of five different biomarkers were discordant in more than 40% of the matched tumor samples. These differences may be sufficiently large as to impact selection of therapy.

"These results demonstrate the dynamic genetic changes in ovarian cancers between diagnosis and recurrence. While the expression of these and other candidate response biomarkers should be evaluated in larger studies to better understand the clinical utility of profiling recurrent tumor specimens, this report highlights our urgent need to individualize our treatment approaches in order to improve ovarian cancer survival," says Dr. Karlan, Director of the Cedars-Sinai Women's Cancer Program at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute and a renowned expert in the field of gynecologic oncology.

Ovarian cancers are very different from patient to patient, which means they are likely to respond differently to FDA-approved and investigational drugs. By identifying the alterations in each tumor's information pathways, molecular profiling enables the individualization of a patient's treatment by matching those tumor alterations with one or more drugs. The Clearity Foundation has developed a process for generating this personalized diagnostic information using commercially-available molecular profiling technologies and then analyzing the results using its Diane Barton Database.

Explore further: New drug combination slows tumor growth for recurrent ovarian cancer

Related Stories

New drug combination slows tumor growth for recurrent ovarian cancer

June 6, 2011
Bevacizumab (Avastin) in combination with chemotherapy resulted in a clinical benefit for patients with recurrent ovarian cancer, according to a new study. Results from the phase III "OCEANS" trial were presented today by ...

Researchers find possible key to preventing chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer

September 15, 2011
For patients with ovarian cancer and their physicians, resistance to chemotherapy is a serious concern. However, researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center have identified a molecular pathway that may play a key role in the evolution ...

Recommended for you

Study uncovers potential 'silver bullet' for preventing and treating colon cancer

July 26, 2017
In preclinical experiments, researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center have uncovered a new way in which colon cancer develops, as well as a potential "silver bullet" for preventing and treating it. The findings may extend to ...

Compound shows promise in treating melanoma

July 26, 2017
While past attempts to treat melanoma failed to meet expectations, an international team of researchers are hopeful that a compound they tested on both mice and on human cells in a petri dish takes a positive step toward ...

Understanding cell segregation mechanisms that help prevent cancer spread

July 26, 2017
Scientists have uncovered how cells are kept in the right place as the body develops, which may shed light on what causes invasive cancer cells to migrate.

Study may explain failure of retinoic acid trials against breast cancer

July 25, 2017
Estrogen-positive breast cancers are often treated with anti-estrogen therapies. But about half of these cancers contain a subpopulation of cells marked by the protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5), which resists treatment—and breast ...

Breaking the genetic resistance of lung cancer and melanoma

July 25, 2017
Researchers from Monash University and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, New York) have discovered why some cancers – particularly lung cancer and melanoma – are able to quickly develop deadly resistance ...

Physical activity could combat fatigue, cognitive decline in cancer survivors

July 25, 2017
A new study indicates that cancer patients and survivors have a ready weapon against fatigue and "chemo brain": a brisk walk.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.