Molecular profiling informs ovarian cancer rescue treatment

As the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in women in the U.S., ovarian cancer is a tough diagnosis to deal with, especially if the cancer comes back. Biomarkers can be used to point to the outcomes of the disease--however, a team of researchers in the U.S. has found that the biomarker profiles can change during the course of the disease, especially if it recurs, and this could affect the future choice of treatment.

Researchers from the Clearity Foundation and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center looked at the profile of biomarkers in 43 samples of tissue from 19 patients, matching the original ovarian cancer and the cancer when it recurred, and found differences in profiles in more than 40% of the samples. According to the researchers, this is the first time that the biomarker profiles for primary and recurrent ovarian cancers have been compared.

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 treatment decisions may change over the course of this disease."

Because the choice of treatment can depend on the biomarkers, this study suggests that it could be important to look at the biomarker profile of the most recent cancer tissue samples, in case the difference in biomarkers is large enough to indicate a need for a change in treatment. Though further studies are needed, this could improve outcomes for some patients with recurring disease, as well as feeding additional information into the development of new drugs.

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- see the abstract