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Biological diversity of ovarian cancer lessens value of screening
Date:12/13/2010

DURHAM, NC Cancer prevention experts have long been frustrated by the lack of a meaningful way to screen women for ovarian cancer. It is a relatively rare disease that often progresses with few symptoms until it is too late for potentially curative treatments, and elevated values of the most commonly used biomarker used in screening, CA125, are also related to other disorders.

Now, scientists at the Duke Cancer Institute say that incorporating the latest information about the biological diversity of ovarian cancer appears to lessen the potential value of screening even further.

"I feel that what this and other studies are telling us is that we will have to do a whole lot more than screening to protect women from this terrible disease," said Laura Havrilesky, MD, an associate professor of gynecologic oncology at Duke and the lead author of the study appearing in the journal CANCER. "We need to work harder to find better approaches to screening and also consider the potential value of preventive strategies."

Until recently, ovarian cancer has been regarded as a single disease. But studies at Duke and elsewhere have shown that it has at least two distinct subtypes, a slow-growing, indolent form, which takes months to years to move into an advanced stage, and a more aggressive variety driven by key gene mutations that gallops through stages I and II in about half that time.

Havrilesky led a research team that used information in the SEER database to create a decision model for screening for ovarian cancer. The SEER database, maintained by the National Institutes of Health, includes information on cancer incidence, prevalence and survival in over a quarter of the U.S. population and breaks out ovarian cancer by type.

They then validated the model using early data from a real-life study, the U.K. Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS), a large, randomized trial that is using CA125 values and u
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Contact: Michelle Gailiun
michelle.gailiun@duke.edu
919-660-1306
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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