Molecular approaches to prevention and detection of epithelial ovarian cancer.

R. C. Bast, C. M. Boyer, F. J. Xu, J. Wiener, R. Dabel, R. Woolas, I. Jacobs, A. Berchuck

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    More than 90% of epithelial ovarian cancers arise from single cells. Malignant transformation can be associated with a number of molecular alterations including upregulation of tyrosine kinases and phosphatases, physiologic activation o ras, mutation of p53, amplification of myc, and increased activity of matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 9. Proliferation of transformed epithelial cells can be enhanced through the persistence of autocrine growth stimulation by TGF-alpha, loss of autocrine growth inhibition by TGF-beta, as well as paracrine growth stimulation by macrophage derived cytokines and OCAF, a novel lyso-phospholipid. Ascites tumor cells retain responsiveness to growth inhibition by TGF-beta which induces apoptosis in malignant ovarian epithelial cells, but not in normal ovarian surface epithelium. Proliferation of surface epithelial cells following ovulation may contribute to the pathogenesis of ovarian cancer. Use of oral contraceptives that suppress ovulation has been associated with reduced risk of ovarian cancer in later life. Retinoids also deserve further evaluation for chemoprevention. Treatment with fenretinide was associated with decreased incidence of ovarian cancer. Additive or synergistic inhibition of ovarian tumor cell proliferation has been observed with TGF-beta in combination with all-trans-retinoic acid. Early detection of ovarian cancer could improve survival. Transvaginal sonography (TVS) and serum markers such as CA-125 have been evaluated in multiple clinical trials. The former lacks adequate specificity, whereas the latter is not sufficiently sensitive. Use of multiple serum markers can improve sensitivity. A combination of CA-125, M-CSF and OVX-1 has detected > 95% of Stage I ovarian cancers. If similar results are obtained with different data sets, multiple serum markers could be used to trigger the performance of TVS, providing a potentially cost effective screening strategy. Prospective trials will be required to demonstrate that screening for early stage ovarian actually impacts on survival.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)219-222
    Number of pages3
    JournalJournal of cellular biochemistry. Supplement
    Publication statusPublished - 1995


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