What is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer occurs in the ovary of a woman’s reproductive system and accounts for about three percent of all cancers in women. In 2010, 21,888 women were estimated to have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States and 13,850 women were estimated to have died of this disease.1 Ovarian serous cystadenocarcinoma, the cancer being studied by TCGA, is a type of epithelial ovarian cancer and accounts for about 90 percent of all ovarian cancers.2 Women aged 65 and older are most affected by ovarian cancer. As a result of the lack of effective screening tests, most women are diagnosed with advanced cancer. View additional information on ovarian cancer.
What have The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) researchers learned about ovarian cancer?
TCGA researchers have:
- Confirmed that mutations in gene TP53 are present in more than 96 percent of ovarian cases. The TP53 gene encodes a tumor suppressor protein that normally prevents cancer development.
- Analyzed gene expression patterns and found signatures that correlate with poor or better survival. Patients whose tumors showed a gene expression pattern associated with poor survival lived a period 23 percent shorter than patients without that signature.
- Affirmed the existence of four distinct subtypes of ovarian cancer through examination of RNA transcription and DNA methylation patterns.
- Substantiated observations that patients with mutations in their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have better odds of survival than patients without mutations in those genes. Approximately 21 percent of tumor cases in this study exhibited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.
- Identified therapeutic opportunities by searching for existing drugs that might correct a genomic error that causes a patient’s ovarian cancer. The search yielded 68 genes that could be targeted by existing Food and Drug Administration-approved or experimental therapeutic compounds.
Where can I find more information about the TCGA Research Network’s studies or studies using TCGA data?
Where can I find clinical trials to treat ovarian cancer that are supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)?
View a list of NCI-supported ovarian cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients.
1 American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2010. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2010.
2 Kaplan BY, Markman MA, Eifel PJ: Ovarian Cancer, Peritoneal Carcinoma and Fallopian Tube Carcinoma In: DeVita VT Jr, Hellman S, Rosenberg SA, eds.: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005, pp 1364.