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New scientific model tracks form of ovarian cancer to origins in fallopian tube
Date:4/18/2011

BOSTON--High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC), the fifth-deadliest cancer among American women, is thought by many scientists to often be a fallopian tube malignancy masquerading as an ovarian one. While most of the evidence linking HGSOC to the fallopian tubes has so far been only circumstantial, a new Dana-Farber Cancer Institute study suggests there is a direct connection, a finding that could aid in the development of better treatments for the cancer.

Dana-Farber scientists report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences they have developed a laboratory model that mimics the process by which fallopian tube cells may morph into cancer cells that appear to have come from the ovaries. Their demonstration that this process can happen in the lab is powerful evidence that it does happen in patients, throwing new weight behind the theory that HGSOC begins, in fact, in the fallopian tubes.

"The hypothesis of fallopian tube origin of high-grade serous ovarian cancer is based primarily on examinations of fallopian tubes surgically removed from women with a genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer," says Dana-Farber's Ronny Drapkin, MD, PhD, senior author of the new study. "Areas of the tubes adjacent to the ovary often had patches of cells that were predecessors of serous cancers. But to convincingly show that these cells are the source of high-grade serous ovarian cancer, we need to trace each step of the disease's development. Our model provides that kind of demonstration."

The origins of HGSOC have been so difficult to track down because of the insidious nature of the disease. Ovarian tumors often establish themselves without producing any warning symptoms. By the time the disease is discovered, the ovaries can be so overrun with cancer that adjacent sections of the fallopian tube are obscured, making them difficult to examine under a microscope. Late detection is one reason why ovarian cancer is notoriously
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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5357
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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