M.D. Anderson Study Predicts Dramatic Growth in Cancer Rates Among U.S. Elderly, Minorities

” … Over the next 20 years, the number of new cancer cases diagnosed annually in the United States will increase by 45 percent, from 1.6 million in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2030, with a dramatic spike in incidence predicted in the elderly and minority populations, according to research from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. …Given these statistics, the role of screening and prevention strategies becomes all the more vital and should be strongly encouraged, said [Ben] Smith [M.D.]. … These findings also highlight two issues that must be addressed simultaneously: clinical trial participation and the increasing cost of cancer care. Historically, both older adults and minorities have been under-represented in such studies, and, therefore, vulnerable to sub-optimal cancer treatment. Simultaneously, over the past decade in particular, the cost of cancer care is growing at a rate that’s not sustainable. …”

“Research underscores impact on health care system, importance of screenings, prevention strategies, inclusive clinical trials

Cancer Newsline Podcast
M. D. Anderson audio player (click & play)
Dramatic Growth in Cancer Rates Among Elderly, Minorities

Over the next 20 years, the number of new cancer cases diagnosed annually in the United States will increase by 45 percent, from 1.6 million in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2030, with a dramatic spike in incidence predicted in the elderly and minority populations, according to research from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The study, published online today in Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the first to determine such specific long-term cancer incidence projections. It predicts a 67 percent increase in the number of adults age-65-or-older diagnosed with cancer, from 1 million in 2010 to 1.6 million in 2030. In non-white individuals over the same 20-year span, the incidence is expected to increase by 100 percent, from 330,000 to 660,000.

Ben Smith, M.D., Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Center

Ben Smith, M.D., Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

According to Ben Smith, M.D., adjunct assistant professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Radiation Oncology, the study underscores cancer’s growing stress on the U.S. health care system.

‘In 2030, 70 percent of all cancers will be diagnosed in the elderly and 28 percent in minorities, and the number of older adults diagnosed with cancer will be the same as the total number of Americans diagnosed with cancer in 2010,’ said Smith, the study’s senior author. ‘Also alarming is that a number of the types of cancers that are expected to increase, such as liver, stomach and pancreas, still have tremendously high mortality rates.’

Unless specific prevention and/or treatment strategies are discovered, cancer death rates also will increase dramatically, said Smith, who is currently on active military duty and is stationed at Lackland Air Force Base.

To conduct their research, Smith and his team accessed the United States Census Bureau statistics, updated in 2008 to project population growth through 2050, and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry, the premier population-based cancer registry representing 26 percent of the country’s population. Cancer incidence rates were calculated by multiplying the age, sex, race and origin-specific population projections by the age, sex, race and origin-specific cancer incidence rates.

The researchers found that from 2010 to 2030, the population is expected to grow by 19 percent (from 305 to 365 million). The total number of cancer cases will increase by 45 percent (from 1.6 to 2.3 million), with a 67 percent increase in cancer incidence in older Americans (1 to 1.6 million), compared to an 11 percent increase in those under the age of 65 (.63 to .67 million).

With respect to race, a 100 percent increase in cancer is expected for minorities (.33 to .66 million); in contrast, in white Americans, a 31 percent increase is anticipated (1.3 to 1.7 million). The rates of cancer in blacks, American Indian-Alaska Native, multi-racial, Asian-Pacific Islanders and Hispanics will increase by 64 percent, 76 percent, 101 percent, 132 percent and 142 percent, respectively.

Regarding disease-specific findings, Smith and his team found that the leading cancer sites are expected to remain constant – breast, prostate, colon and lung. However, cancer sites with the greatest increase in incidence expected are: stomach (67 percent); liver (59 percent); myeloma (57 percent); pancreas (55 percent); and bladder (54 percent).

Given these statistics, the role of screening and prevention strategies becomes all the more vital and should be strongly encouraged, said Smith. In the study, Smith and his team site [sic]: vaccinations for hepatitis B and HPV; the chemoprevention agents tamoxifen and raloxifene; interventions for tobacco and alcohol; and removal of pre-malignant lesions, such as colon polyps.

These findings also highlight two issues that must be addressed simultaneously: clinical trial participation and the increasing cost of cancer care. Historically, both older adults and minorities have been under-represented in such studies, and, therefore, vulnerable to sub-optimal cancer treatment. Simultaneously, over the past decade in particular, the cost of cancer care is growing at a rate that’s not sustainable.

‘The fact that these two groups have been under-represented in clinical research participation, yet their incidence of cancer is growing so rapidly, reflects the need for therapeutic trials to be more inclusive and address issues that are particularly relevant to both populations,’ said Smith. ‘In addition, as we design clinical trials, we need to seek not only the treatment that will prolong survival, but prolong survival at a reasonable cost to patients. These are two issues that oncologists need to be much more concerned about and attuned to.’

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the shortage of health care professionals predicted. For example, according to a workforce assessment by American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the shortage of medical oncologists will impact the health care system by 2020. Smith said ASCO and other professional medical organizations beyond oncology are aware of the problem, and are actively engaged in efforts to try and grow the number of physicians, as well as encourage the careers of nurse practitioners and physician assistants who are part of the continuum of care, to best accommodate the increase in demand forecasted.

‘There’s no doubt the increasing incidence of cancer is a very important societal issue. There will not be one solution to this problem, but many different issues that need to be addressed to prepare for these changes,’ said Smith. ‘I’m afraid if we don’t come to grips with this as a society, health care may be the next bubble to burst.’

In addition to Smith, other M. D. Anderson authors on the study include: Thomas Buchholz, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology and the study’s senior author; Gabriel Hortobagyi, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Breast Medical Oncology; and Grace Smith, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology. Arti Hurria, M.D., post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Medical Oncology, City of Hope Cancer Center, also is a contributing author on the study.”

Sources:

Routine Screening for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Recommended By ACOG & SGO

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.

lu-karen-pic

Karen Lu, M.D., Professor of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

‘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.

Two Studies Address Risk Reduction & Screening For BRCA 1/2 Gene Mutation Carriers

“Prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy – removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes–reduces the relative risk of breast cancer by approximately 50 percent and the risk of ovarian and fallopian tube cancer by approximately 80 percent in women who carry a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, researchers report in the January 13 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute …. Women at high risk of ovarian cancer due to a genetic predisposition may opt for either surveillance or prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (pBSO).  Main objective of our study was to determine the effectiveness of ovarian cancer screening in women with a BRCA1/2 mutation.  At this time,’ Dr. de Bock and colleagues advise, “prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy from age 35-40 for BRCA1 carriers and from age 40-45 for BRCA2 carriers is the only effective strategy, as it reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by 96% and may also protect against breast cancer with a risk reduction up to 53% when performed in premenopausal women.’ They add, ‘For women who still want to opt for screening, a more effective screening strategy needs to be designed.'”

Meta-analysis Confirms Value of Risk-Reducing Salpingo-Oophorectomy
for Women with BRCA Mutations

Prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy – removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes–reduces the relative risk of breast cancer by approximately 50 percent and the risk of ovarian and fallopian tube cancer by approximately 80 percent in women who carry a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, researchers report in the January 13 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute .  Previous studies have shown substantial reduction in the risks of breast and ovarian or fallopian tube cancers in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers following salpingo-oophorectomy. However, the magnitude of the benefit has been unclear.

To establish a more reliable estimate of the magnitude of the benefit, Timothy Rebbeck, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues analyzed the pooled results of 10 published studies.  They found that risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy was associated with a 79 percent relative reduction in ovarian and fallopian tube cancer risk and a 51 percent relative reduction in breast cancer risk in women who carried mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 . When the researchers analyzed the effect of the prophylactic surgery on BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers separately, they found a similar benefit for the two groups in terms of breast cancer risk, with a 53 percent risk reduction for each group. The groups were too small to be examined independently for gynecologic cancer risk. ‘In conclusion, the summary risk reduction estimates presented here confirm that BRCA1/2 mutation carriers who have been treated with [risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy] have a substantially reduced risk of both breast and ovarian cancer,’ the authors write. ‘However, residual cancer risk remains after surgery. Therefore, additional cancer risk reduction and screening strategies are required to maximally reduce cancer incidence and mortality in this high-risk population.’

In an accompanying editorial, Mark H. Greene, M.D., and Phuong L. Mai, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., commend Rebbeck and colleagues ‘ effort and review the steps the study authors took to develop the most precise estimates of risk reduction following prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy. The results ‘should benefit women who are trying to decide whether or not to undergo [risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy],’ the editorialists write. ‘We urge providers of cancer genetics counseling services to adopt the summary risk estimates developed by Rebbeck et al. as those most currently reliable when counseling BRCA mutation carriers.’

Contacts:
Article: Holly Auer, Holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu ; 215-349-5659
Editorial: NCI Press Officers, ncipressofficers@mail.nih.gov ; 301-496-6641

Citations:
Article: Rebbeck T, et al. Meta-analysis of Risk Reduction Estimates Associated with Risk Reducing Salpingo-
Oophorectomy in BRCA1 or BRCA2 Mutation Carriers
. J Natl Cancer Inst 2009;101: 80 – 87 .
Editorial: Greene M and Mai PL. What Have We Learned from Risk-Reducing Salpingo-oophorectomy? J Natl
Cancer Inst
2009;101: 7 – 71 .”

Quoted SourceMEMO TO THE MEDIA -Meta-analysis Confirms Value of Risk-Reducing Salpingo-oophorectomy for Women with BRCA Mutations, JNCI  2009 101(2):69 (online Jan. 13, 2009).

Time to stop ovarian cancer screening in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers?

“Women at high risk of ovarian cancer due to a genetic predisposition may opt for either surveillance or prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (pBSO).  Main objective of our study was to determine the effectiveness of ovarian cancer screening in women with a BRCA1/2 mutation.

We evaluated 241 consecutive women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation who were enrolled in the surveillance program for hereditary ovarian cancer from September 1995 until May 2006 at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), The Netherlands. The ovarian cancer screening included annual pelvic examination, transvaginal ultrasound (TVU) and serum CA125 measurement. To evaluate the effectiveness of screening in diagnosing (early stage) ovarian cancer sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV) of pelvic examination, TVU and CA125 were calculated.

Three ovarian cancers were detected during the surveillance period; 1 prevalent cancer, 1 interval cancer and 1 screen-detected cancer, all in an advanced stage (FIGO stage IIIc).  A PPV of 20% was achieved for pelvic examination, 33% for TVU and 6% for CA125 estimation alone. The NPV were 99.4% for pelvic examination, 99.5% for TVU and 99.4% for CA125. All detected ovarian cancers were in an advanced stage, and sensitivities and positive predictive values of the screening modalities are low. Restricting the analyses to incident contacts that contained all 3 screening modalities did not substantially change the outcomes. Annual gynecological screening of women with a BRCA1/2 mutation to prevent advanced stage ovarian cancer is not effective.”

CitationTime to stop ovarian cancer screening in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers?, van der Velde NM, Mourits, MJ,  Arts HJ, et. al.; Int J Cancer 2008;Vol 124: Issue 4: 919-923.

Comment: “At this time,’ Dr. de Bock and colleagues advise, “prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy from age 35-40 for BRCA1 carriers and from age 40-45 for BRCA2 carriers is the only effective strategy, as it reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by 96% and may also protect against breast cancer with a risk reduction up to 53% when performed in premenopausal women.’ They add, ‘For women who still want to opt for screening, a more effective screening strategy needs to be designed.'” [SourceAnnual Screening for Ovarian Cancer in BRCA1/2 Carriers Deemed Ineffective, News Article, Cancerpage.com, Feb. 23, 2009.]

Symptom Screening + CA-125 Blood Test = Better Detection of Early Stage Ovarian Cancer

” …Research has found that when used alone, a simple four-question symptom-screening questionnaire and the CA125 ovarian-cancer blood test each detect about 60 percent of women with early-stage ovarian cancer and 80 percent of those with late-stage disease. This study found that when used together, the questionnaire and blood test may boost early-detection rates to more than 80 percent and late-stage detection rates to more than 95 percent. …”

“Women’s reports of persistent, recent-onset symptoms linked to ovarian cancer – abdominal or pelvic pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and abdominal bloating – when combined with the CA125 blood test may improve the early detection of ovarian cancer by 20 percent, according to new findings by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center published online today in CANCER.

Research has found that when used alone, a simple four-question symptom-screening questionnaire and the CA125 ovarian-cancer blood test each detect about 60 percent of women with early-stage ovarian cancer and 80 percent of those with late-stage disease. This study found that when used together, the questionnaire and blood test may boost early-detection rates to more than 80 percent and late-stage detection rates to more than 95 percent.

‘Of course, it is the increase in the detection of early-stage disease that is the most exciting,’ said lead author M. Robyn Andersen, Ph.D., an associate member of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center. Cure rates for those diagnosed when the disease is confined to the ovary are approximately 70 percent to 90 percent. However, more than 70 percent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced-stage disease, when the survival rate is only 20 percent to 30 percent.

‘This research suggests that if a woman has one or more symptoms that are new for her, having begun within the past year, and if the symptoms happen nearly daily or at least 12 times a month, that may well be a signal to go in and discuss those symptoms with her doctor,’ Andersen said. ‘It’s probably not going to be ovarian cancer, just as most breast lumps are not breast cancer, but it’s still a sign that it might be worth checking with her doctor to see if a CA125 blood test and transvaginal ultrasound may be appropriate.’

Assessing the symptoms included in the symptom-screening index may already be done by some doctors based on a consensus statement issued last year by the National Institutes of Health. The researchers hope their symptom index will help doctors know which among their patients who complain of symptoms such as abdominal swelling and pelvic pain might have cancer.

The symptom-screening index, developed in 2006 by paper co-author Barbara A. Goff, M.D., professor and director of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, is not used proactively in clinical general practice, but Andersen and colleagues are conducting a pilot study to assess the value of using it as a screening tool among normal-risk women as part of their routine medical-history assessment.

For the just-published study, the researchers administered the symptom questionnaire to 75 women about to undergo surgery for pelvic masses who were later diagnosed with ovarian cancer (the case group), and 254 healthy women at high risk for ovarian cancer due to a family history of the disease (the control, or comparison, group). The cases were recruited through Pacific Gynecology Specialists at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, and the controls were recruited through the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Study, a joint project of the Hutchinson Center and the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research.

The National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research and the Canary Foundation supported this research.”

[Quoted Source: Symptom screening plus a simple blood test equals a 20 percent jump in early detection of ovarian cancer, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center News Release, June 23, 2008.]

LabCorp Announces Availability of Ovarian Cancer Blood Test To Assess The Presence of Early Stage Ovarian Cancer

“Laboratory Corporation of America® Holdings is now offering OvaSure™, an Ovarian Cancer Screening test to assess the presence of early stage ovarian cancer in high-risk women. In a recent study of high risk and average risk subjects, this blood test, using six biomarkers and research conducted at Yale University School of Medicine, was shown to discriminate between disease-free women and ovarian cancer patients (stage I-IV) with high specificity (99.4%) and sensitivity (95.3%). Additional studies performed at Yale University School of Medicine demonstrate comparable findings.”

On March 14, 2008, the H*O*P*E*™ weblog reported that a new blood test developed by the Yale University School of Medicine detected early stage ovarian cancer with 99% accuracy in Phase II clinical trial testing. To review the March 14 H*O*P*E*™ weblog post, click here. In 2006, Laboratory Corporation of America (Lab Corp) obtained licensing rights to the ovarian cancer early detection blood test, known as OvaSure™, from Yale. Today, Lab. Corp. announced in a press release that it is making the OvaSure™ blood test immediately available nationwide to women who are at high risk of developing ovarian cancer in the future. The relevant portion of the Lab Corp. press release dated June 23, 2007 is set forth below.

LabCorp Announces Availability of OvaSure™

Burlington, NC, June 23, 2008 – Laboratory Corporation of America® Holdings (LabCorp®) (NYSE: LH) is now offering OvaSure™, an Ovarian Cancer Screening test to assess the presence of early stage ovarian cancer in high-risk women. In a recent study of high risk and average risk subjects, this blood test, using six biomarkers and research conducted at Yale University School of Medicine, was shown to discriminate between disease-free women and ovarian cancer patients (stage I-IV) with high specificity (99.4%) and sensitivity (95.3%). Additional studies performed at Yale University School of Medicine demonstrate comparable findings.

‘LabCorp is pleased to offer for high-risk women the OvaSure test to enhance the potential of detecting and treating ovarian cancer in its early or localized stage when the likelihood of survival is greatest,’ said Myla P. Lai-Goldman, M.D., Executive Vice President, Chief Medical Officer of LabCorp. ‘OvaSure is a significant addition to LabCorp’s family of proteomic tests, and a major component of LabCorp’s strategy to bring the latest in diagnostic technology to women’s healthcare.’

It has been estimated that for the year 2008, 21,650 women will be newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It has been further estimated that 15,520 women will die from the disease in 2008. Despite being one-eighth as common as breast cancer, it is three times more lethal. If ovarian cancer is diagnosed and treated at the localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 92%; unfortunately, only 19% of all cases are found at the localized stage. Most women have their ovarian cancer detected at the regional or distant stage when the 5-year survival rates are 71% and 30% respectively.

‘I am pleased that this test is available to help physicians detect and treat ovarian cancer in its earliest stages,’ said Gil Mor, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale and a member of Yale Cancer Center. ‘Our team is proud that our research may help play a role in higher survival rates for women with this disease.’”

[Quoted Source: LabCorp Announces Availability of OvaSure™ , Laboratory Corporation of America Press Release dated June 23, 2008.]

Comment**: Although additional Phase III clinical trial testing with a larger patient population is required, the OvaSure™ blood test may represent the “gold standard” for early stage ovarian cancer detection in the near future. The immediate availability of the OvaSure™ blood test for use by women who are at high risk for developing ovarian cancer could save lives by catching ovarian cancer in its earliest stages, thereby making treatment of the disease highly effective. To view the ABCNews.com news report regarding the Yale ovarian cancer screening blood test that aired on April 21, 2008, click here.

**As of August 21, 2008, the amended OvaSure™ test “use” information provides, among other things, that a woman who has had both ovaries removed (i.e., a bilateral oophorectomy) should not use the test. Accordingly, it appears that the OvaSure™ test cannot be used by a “high-risk” woman to screen for an ovarian cancer recurrence, if she had both ovaries removed as part of her first line treatment following initial diagnosis of the disease.

OvaSure™ Information: The OvaSure™ blood test is now available nationwide through LabCorp. If you want to review OvaSure™ blood test information on the LabCorp. website, click here (then click on the letter “O” located on the upper left side panel keyboard and scroll down until you find the three OvaSure™ blood test information entries). It is our understanding that the OvaSure™ test cost approximately (U.S.)$225 and test results are available within five business days.

OvaSure™ Use (updated 8/21/08): “The OvaSureTM assay may be used as a tool to identify high-risk women who might have ovarian carcinoma. OvaSureTM is not indicated for a patient who is currently undergoing chemotherapy, who has had both ovaries removed, who is pregnant, or who is lactating. About 10% of women with benign ovarian masses (including cysts) may have positive results by this test.”

OvaSure™ Limitations (updated 8/21/08) : “Pregnant women or women who are lactating should not be screened by the assay because it may lead to false-positive results. A Calculated Risk Index of 0.50 or greater indicates a positive reading, which is suggestive of ovarian cancer (possible presence of disease). In a clinical study (see Journal Abstract below) across all disease stages, the six-marker panel composed of leptin, prolactin, osteopontin, insulin-like growth factor II, macrophage inhibitory factor, and CA-125 demonstrated a sensitivity of 95.3% and a specificity of 99.4% in detecting disease. Greater than 99% sensitivity (119 of 120) was shown in late-stage disease (stage III and stage IV). In early stage disease (stage I and stage II), the assay demonstrated a sensitivity of 91.6%, providing a significant improvement over CA-125 alone (less than 60% of stage I and stage II combined) for ovarian cancer detection. All positive readings should be retested on a new sample drawn at least three weeks after the original sample was collected. Patients with positive results confirmed by retesting on a second sample should be followed by a women’s health specialist who may order additional evaluations, such as sensitive imaging. Components used in this test are labeled as research purposes only. The performance characteristics of this product have not been established by the assay manufacturer. Results should not be used as a diagnosis for ovarian cancer without confirmation of the diagnosis by another medically established diagnostic product or procedure.”

OvaSure™ Journal Abstracts and Full Text Studies:

Updates:

  • July 2, 2008: The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO) issued a statement regarding the Labcorp OvaSure™ test. The SGO statement, dated July 2, 2008, is quoted below in its entirety.

“July 2, 2008

Society of Gynecologic Oncologists
Statement Regarding OvaSureTM

The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO) recognizes the need for accurate early detection biomarkers for ovarian cancer. For this reason, SGO reviewed the literature regarding OvaSure, a serum-based diagnostic test for ovarian cancer.

After reviewing OvaSure’s materials, it is our opinion that additional research is needed to validate the test’s effectiveness before offering it to women outside of the context of a research study conducted with appropriate informed consent under the auspices of an institutional review board.

SGO is committed to actively following and contributing to this vitally important research. As physicians who care only for women with gynecologic cancers, our hope is that these cancers can either be prevented or detected early. Because no currently available test has been shown to reliably detect ovarian cancer in its earliest and most curable stages, we will await the results of further clinical validation of OvaSure with great interest.”

The SGO 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.

Quoted Update Source: Society of Gynecologic Oncologists Statement Regarding OvaSure™, Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, July 2, 2008 (Adobe Reader PDF document).

Other Update Sources: Fast Facts: Background on The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, Society of Gynecologic Oncologists Press Kit, undated.

“AM Nick is a Fellow in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology, and AK Sood is the Bettyann Asche-Murray Distinguished Professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and in the Department of Cancer Biology, both at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

In order to overcome the significant mortality associated with ovarian cancer, a highly sensitive and specific screening test is urgently needed. CA125 is used to assess response to chemotherapy, detect recurrence, and distinguish malignant from benign disease; however, this marker is elevated in only 50-60% of stage I ovarian cancers, making it inadequate for early detection of malignancy. In this Practice Point, we discuss Visintin et al.‘s attempt to validate a novel multiplex assay that uses a panel of six serum biomarkers-leptin, prolactin, osteopontin, insulin-like growth factor II, macrophage inhibitory factor, and CA125 [medical abstract & full text of Visintin et. al. study provided above]. The study included 362 healthy controls and 156 patients with newly diagnosed ovarian cancer. The final model yielded 95.3% sensitivity, 99.4% specificity, a positive predictive value of 99.3% and a negative predictive value of 99.2%. These results indicate potential utility of this assay for early detection of ovarian cancer, although further validation is needed in a sample set representative of the general population.”

  • August 21, 2008: The Labcorp information with respect to the OvaSure™ test was recently modified. Despite that fact that the test was made available for “high-risk” women, it cannot be used by women who have had both ovaries removed. Consequently, it appears that a woman who had both ovaries removed (i.e., bilateral oophorectomy) after an initial diagnosis of ovarian cancer, cannot use the OvaSure™ test to screen for a potential recurrence of the disease in the future.