TCGA's Study of Ovarian Serous Adenocarcinoma
What is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer occurs in the ovary of a woman’s reproductive system and accounts for about 3% 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 adenocarcinoma, the cancer studied by TCGA, is a type of epithelial ovarian cancer and accounts for about 90% 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. Additional information on ovarian cancer.
What have TCGA researchers learned about ovarian cancer?
- Mutations in the gene TP53 are present in more than 96% of ovarian cases studied. The TP53 gene encodes a tumor suppressor protein that normally prevents cancer development.
- Certain gene expression patterns correlate with poor or better survival. Patients with the poorest survival gene expression pattern lived 23% shorter period than other patients.
- Tumors can be categorized into four distinct subtypes according to gene expression and DNA methylation patterns.
- Patients with mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have better odds of survival than patients without mutations in those genes. Approximately 21% of tumor cases in the study exhibited these mutations.
- Therapeutic opportunities for ovarian cancer lie in existing drugs targeting specific genomic errors. The cases studied contained 68 genes that could be targeted by existing Food and Drug Administration-approved or experimental therapeutic compounds.
1American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2010. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, Inc. 2010.
2Kaplan BY, Markman MA, and Eifel PJ: Ovarian Cancer, Peritoneal Carcinoma and Fallopian Tube Carcinoma. In: DeVita VT Jr, Hellman S, Rosenberg SA, ed. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005,1364.