WEDNESDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- In the largest such study of any tumor type to date, scientists say they've gleaned an in-depth look at genes that may help drive aggressive ovarian cancer.
The achievement, which could lead to a better understanding of this "silent killer" and ways to treat it, comes as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network. That project was launched in 2006 by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute.
"We have now a map that is telling the cancer research community where to look and what to work on in the future," explained study lead author Paul T. Spellman, who conducted his research while a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. "The public should know that this is not an answer in itself. But before this we were essentially making guesses. Now we actually have a very good road map."
The findings are published in the June 30 issue of Nature.
According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women, but it is especially lethal because it is often caught too late for effective treatment. Nearly 14,000 American women died of ovarian cancer in 2010, the cancer society said.
The new genomic research looked specifically at high-grade serous ovarian adenocarcinoma (HGS-OvCa), the most common form of the disease, which accounts for roughly 85 percent of all ovarian cancer deaths. Looking at 316 tumors, the researchers focused on what's called "whole-exome sequencing," examining those regions of the genome that deal with protein production. These types of examinations, along with others, were also conducted on another 173 ovarian tumor specimens.
"This battery of analyses is a big step up in characterizing the many different kinds of changes that can cause cancer, in this case ovarian c
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