There needs to be a better understanding about ovarian cancer, said a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Ovarian cancer should not be categorized as a single disease, but instead as a “constellation of different cancers involving the ovary,” according to the report, published Wednesday. Also, ovarian cancer often does not begin in the ovaries.
“While progress has been made in ovarian cancer research over the last few decades, much remains to be learned,” said Jerome F. Strauss, chair of the committee that carried out the study and wrote the report. “The more that is understood about the basic biology of various types of ovarian cancers, such as where they originate in the body, the more rapidly we can move toward advances in prevention, screening, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care.”
Ovarian cancer accounts for three percent of cancer diagnoses in women, yet is the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related death. Roughly two-thirds of women are diagnosed when the ovarian cancer is at an advanced stage, making the five-year survival rate less than 46 percent.
The report recommends that research should be prioritized on high-grade serous carcinoma, which are the most common type of ovarian tumor but also have the worst survival rates — accounting for nearly 70 percent of deaths.
The committee also found recent evidence that suggests that many ovarian cancers arise in other tissues besides the ovary, such as the fallopian tubes, which eventually metastasize to the ovary. Researchers do not have a complete understanding of how each subtype of ovarian cancer progresses, and the committee stressed that the medical community should prioritize the disease’s cellular origins and how it develops.
Although the majority of women with ovarian cancer respond well to initial treatments, most experience a cancer recurrence — and recurrent ovarian cancers often become resistant to drug therapies. An improved understanding of the different types of ovarian cancers — and their biomarkers — will mean a better chance of developing targeted therapies, researchers said.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery