Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s charitable initiative supporting groundbreaking research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated timeframe, has reached a significant milestone, awarding the first round of three-year grants — that total $73.6 million — to five multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional research Dream Teams. … Each Dream Team’s project, funded for three years pending satisfactory achievement of stated milestones, is “translational” in nature, geared toward moving science from “bench to bedside” where it can benefit patients as quickly as possible. …
A Dream Team of leading cancer researchers will accelerate development of drugs to attack a mutated [PI3K] molecular pathway that fuels endometrial, breast and ovarian cancers, funded by a three-year $15 million grant awarded today by [SU2C] … Genetic aberrations in the network, known as the PI3K pathway, are found in half of all breast cancer patients, 60 percent of all cases of endometrial cancer and 20 percent of ovarian cancer patients. Other cancers that include a mutationally activated PI3K pathway include melanoma, colon and prostate cancers, brain tumors, and leukemia.
“Genetic variations in the micro-RNA (miRNA) processing pathway genes and miRNA binding sites predict a woman’s risk for developing ovarian cancer and her prospects for survival, researchers from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reported at the 100th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. … The unique study was the first to examine the association of genetic variants related to miRNA with ovarian cancer risk, overall survival for ovarian cancer patients, and platinum-based chemotherapy response. …”
“Genetic variations in miRNA processing pathway and binding sites help predict ovarian cancer risk – Several variations indicate likelihood of response to platinum-based chemotherapy
DENVER – Genetic variations in the micro-RNA (miRNA) processing pathway genes and miRNA binding sites predict a woman’s risk for developing ovarian cancer and her prospects for survival, researchers from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reported at the 100th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.
‘We found a gene dosage effect, the more unfavorable variations a woman has, the greater her ovarian cancer risk and the shorter her survival time,’ said senior author Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Epidemiology. Median survival, for example, ranged from 151 months for women with fewest unfavorable variations to 24 months for those with the most.
Several variations also indicate likely response to platinum-based chemotherapy.
‘Our findings have the potential clinical application of indicating a patient’s prognosis and showing who will respond to different therapies by analyzing a single blood sample,’ Wu said. ‘We also will incorporate this genetic information with epidemiological information to build a comprehensive model to predict susceptibility to ovarian cancer.’
The team chose the miRNA processing pathway because it is crucial to production of miRNAs, the small molecules that regulate between one third and half of all genes. The researchers also chose the binding sites on host genes where miRNAs exert their effects on gene expression.
They analyzed 219 potential functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) – variations of a single DNA building block in a gene – in eight genes that process miRNA and at the miRNA binding sites of 129 cancer-relevant genes. The study examined genetic information from 417 cancer patients and 417 healthy controls. To minimize the possible confounding effects of ethnicity, 339 Caucasian cases and 349 controls were analyzed.
They discovered 12 SNPs to be significantly associated with ovarian cancer risk. Moreover, compared to women with five or fewer unfavorable genotypes, women with eight or more of these unfavorable genotypes were 4.5 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer and women with six to eight unfavorable SNPs were at twice the risk.
The team also found 21 SNPs significantly associated with overall survival. Median survival was 151 months for women with six or fewer unfavorable variations; 42 months for those with seven to nine unfavorable variations; and 24 months for those with 10 or more. One of the outcome risk SNPs also was strongly associated with platinum-based chemotherapy response, with those having the SNP 3.4 times less likely to respond to chemotherapy.
Wu collaborated with Dong Liang, Ph.D, in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Texas Southern University, and Karen Lu, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Gynecologic Oncology, on this study.
The unique study was the first to examine the association of genetic variants related to miRNA with ovarian cancer risk, overall survival for ovarian cancer patients, and platinum-based chemotherapy response. Such a wide-ranging inquiry was made possible by M. D. Anderson’s extensive clinical and genetic data sets, Wu said.
Co-authors with Wu, first author Liang, Ph.D., and Lu are; Jie Lin, Ph.D., Xia Pu, Yuanqing Ye, Ph.D., all in the Department of Epidemiology; and Larissa Meyer, M.D., in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Pu is a graduate student at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston, which is a joint effort of M. D. Anderson and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
This research was supported by an award by the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program.”
About M. D. Anderson
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world’s most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. M. D. Anderson is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For four of the past six years, including 2008, M. D. Anderson has ranked No. 1 in cancer care in “America’s Best Hospitals,” a survey published annually in U.S. News & World Report.
- Genetic Variations in miRNA Processing Pathway and Binding Sites Help Predict Ovarian Cancer Risk and Survival – Several variations indicate likelihood of response to platinum-based chemotherapy, News Releases, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, April 19, 2009.
- Liang D, Meyer L, Lin J, Pu X, Ye Y, Wu L, Lu K, Wu X. Genetic variants in microRNA processing pathway genes and ovarian cancer risk. In: Proceedings of the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2009 Apr 18-22; Denver, CO. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; 2009. Abstract 1905.
- Gene Variations Could Predict Ovarian Cancer Risk, Video News Story By Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, April 20, 2009.
Evaluating a patient’s risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome is an important first step in cancer prevention and early detection and should be a routine part of ob-gyn practice. Those who are likely to have the syndrome should be referred for further assessment to a clinician with expertise in genetics, according to a new Practice Bulletin jointly released today by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [ACOG] and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists [SGO]. The new document also provides information on how to counsel patients with hereditary risk in cancer prevention and how to perform surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes in this population
“Routine Screening for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Recommended
Washington, DC — Evaluating a patient’s risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome is an important first step in cancer prevention and early detection and should be a routine part of ob-gyn practice. Those who are likely to have the syndrome should be referred for further assessment to a clinician with expertise in genetics, according to a new Practice Bulletin jointly released today by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [ACOG] and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists [SGO]. The new document also provides information on how to counsel patients with hereditary risk in cancer prevention and how to perform surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes in this population.
Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome is an inherited cancer-susceptibility syndrome marked by multiple family members with breast cancer, ovarian cancer or both; the presence of both breast and ovarian cancer in a single individual; and early age of breast cancer onset.
‘The vast majority of families who have hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome carry an inherited mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 tumor suppressor genes. Women in these families may have a higher risk of breast, ovarian, peritoneal, and fallopian tube cancers,’ said Karen Lu, MD, professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who helped develop the ACOG Practice Bulletin. ‘Though having a BRCA gene mutation does not mean an individual will undoubtedly develop cancer, it is better to know sooner rather than later who may be at risk.’
Women with either BRCA mutation have a 65%-74% chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. Ovarian cancer risk is increased by 39%-46% in women with a BRCA1 mutation and by 12-20% in women with a BRCA2 mutation. Approximately 1 in 300 to 1 in 800 individuals in the US are BRCA carriers. BRCA mutations may occur more frequently in some populations founded by small ancestral groups, such as Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews, French Canadians, and Icelanders. An estimated 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
The new document addresses the ob-gyn’s role in identifying, managing, and counseling patients with an inherited cancer risk. The initial screening evaluation should include specific questions about personal and family history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Because BRCA mutations can be passed down from both the father’s and mother’s side of the family, both sides of a woman’s family should be carefully examined. Obtaining a full family history may be impeded in women who were adopted, those from families that have multiple women who had a hysterectomy and oophorectomy at a young age, or those from families with few female relatives. The results of a general evaluation will help determine whether the patient would benefit from a more in-depth hereditary cancer risk assessment, which should be conducted by a health care provider with expertise in cancer genetics.
Further genetic risk assessment is recommended for women who have more than a 20%-25% chance of having an inherited predisposition to breast or ovarian cancer. These women include:
- Women with a personal history of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer
- Women with ovarian cancer and a close relative—defined as mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, granddaughter, aunt—with ovarian cancer, premenopausal breast cancer, or both
- Women of Ashkenazi Jewish decent with breast cancer who were diagnosed at age 40 or younger or who have ovarian cancer
- Women with breast cancer at 50 or younger and who have a close relative with ovarian cancer or male breast cancer at any age
- Women with a close relative with a known BRCA mutation
Genetic risk assessment may also be appropriate for women with a 5%-10% chance of having hereditary risk, including:
- Women with breast cancer by age 40
- Women with ovarian cancer, primary peritoneal cancer, or fallopian tube cancer or high grade, serous histology at any age
- Women with cancer in both breasts (particularly if the first cancer was diagnosed by age 50)
- Women with breast cancer by age 50 and a close relative with breast cancer by age 50
- Women with breast cancer at any age and two or more close relatives with breast cancer at any age (particularly if at least one case of breast cancer was diagnosed by age 50)
- Unaffected women with a close relative that meets one of the previous criteria
Before testing, a genetic counselor can discuss the possible outcomes of testing; options for surveillance, chemoprevention, and risk-reducing surgery; cost and legal and insurance matters surrounding genetic tests and test results; and the psychologic and familial implications that may follow. The counselor can also provide written materials that women can share with family members who may also have an inherited risk.
Screening, Prevention, and Surgical Intervention
Those with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome can begin a screening and prevention plan based on individual risk factors and family history. Ovarian cancer screening approaches are currently limited. For women with a BRCA mutation, ACOG recommends periodic screening with CA 125 and transvaginal ultrasonography beginning between the ages of 30 and 35 years or 5-10 years earlier than the earliest age of first diagnosis of ovarian cancer in the family.
Risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy surgery—which removes both of the ovaries and fallopian tubes—can reduce the risk of ovarian and fallopian tube cancer by about 85% to 90% among BRCA carriers. Women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations should be offered risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy by age 40 or when childbearing is complete. The ideal time for this surgery depends on the type of gene mutation.
‘In this population, risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy and pathology review must be extremely comprehensive to check for microscopic cancers in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and abdominal cavity,’ Dr. Lu said. According to the Practice Bulletin, all tissue from the ovaries and fallopian tubes should be removed, and a complete, serial sectioning that includes microscopic examination for occult cancer should be conducted. A thorough visualization of the peritoneal surfaces with pelvic washings should be performed. Any abnormal areas should undergo biopsy.
Strategies recommended to reduce breast cancer risk in women with a BRCA mutation include semiannual clinical breast examination; an annual mammogram and annual breast magnetic resonance imaging screening beginning at age 25 or sooner based on the earliest age onset in the family; chemoprevention therapy with tamoxifen; and bilateral mastectomy to remove both breasts, which reduces the risk of breast cancer by greater than 90%-95%.
Practice Bulletin #103 “Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome” is published in the April 2009 edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology.”
About the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is the national medical organization representing over 53,000 members who provide health care for women.
About the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists
The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists is a national medical specialty organization of physician-surgeons who are trained in the comprehensive management of women with malignancies of the reproductive tract. The purpose of the SGO is to improve the care of women with gynecologic cancers by encouraging research and disseminating knowledge to raise the standards of practice in the prevention and treatment of gynecologic malignancies, in cooperation with other organizations interested in women’s health care, oncology and related fields. This is reflected in the Society’s Mission statement to “promote and ensure the highest quality
of comprehensive clinical care through excellence in education and research in gynecologic cancers.”
Primary Source: Routine Screening for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Recommended, News Release, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, March 20, 2009.