Ovarian Cancer金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台


Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease which affects the primary reproductive organs for females. At birth the ovaries are rendered as body tissue, until very sophisticatedly, once a female reaches puberty and matures physically, so do her ovaries1,2金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台

Despite advances in treatment, ovarian cancer is one of the most common female cancers3 and the eighth most common cause of death from cancer in women worldwide.4 The goals of front-line therapy have always been to delay progression of the disease for as long as possible and maintain the patient’s quality of life with the intent of achieving complete remission - yet currently 70% of patients relapse within three years of initial treatment.5,6,7,8金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台



To understand ovarian cancer, we must first understand the evolving role of the ovaries. One function only starts at puberty; the ovaries secrete reproductive hormones, the most commonly known being oestrogen and progesterone, to drive the reproductive cycle and develop physical female characteristics. When a female goes through menopause, usually at the age of 45-55 years, the ovaries stop producing as much oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month1,9金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台

The amount of hormone secreted therefore changes not only throughout the menstrual cycle but also across a lifespan. There is also disparity in ovarian cancer across the ages; although younger women can develop ovarian cancer, it usually affects women who have reached menopause5 with almost 80% of diagnoses being women aged 50 and above.5金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台


There’s a reassuring link between early diagnosis of ovarian cancer and improved survival.10,11,12,13 Cancer progresses through four stages of development, from early (stages 1-2) to late (stages 3-4) and once it has become ‘advanced’, it may have spread from the ovaries to other parts of the body and can be more challenging to control.8,9,10,11金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台

Up to four out of five women are diagnosed once the disease has already spread and chances of survival are greatly reduced.14,13 Despite this clear correlation between early diagnosis and survival, most ovarian cancers are diagnosed at a late stage15 金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台

Part of the complexity comes from recognising early symptoms in order to diagnose the cancer at an early stage. Symptoms are non-specific, meaning they can often go unnoticed or may be misdiagnosed for another illness until the cancer is advanced.16 金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台

Another reason is that unlike other cancers, there is still no reliable and effective screening method for ovarian cancer,2,17 further delaying the ability to diagnose. It is known that certain lifestyle18 and medical factors do indicate an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer which go beyond age, such as a lack of parity, endometriosis or a family history of ovarian, breast, or colorectal cancer.3,15,19 金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台


Every cell in the body suffers from DNA damage and undergoes a repair process in order to function normally20 .The Homologous Repair (HRR) pathway is just one genetic pathway which produces proteins, such as BRCA1/2, among others, to carry out this repair process via double-stranded breaks. PARPs (poly(ADP-Ribose) Polymerases) are an example of a family of enzymes vital to another genetic pathway, to repair single-stranded DNA breaks.21,22 金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台

HRD stands for Homologous Recombination Deficiency, a lack of functional components in one or more of the DNA repair pathways and a common trait of cancer cells, which have a high genetic mutation rate. One example is BRCA. Both men and women possess BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins which, when functioning normally, act as tumour suppressors.23 Their role within the HRD pathway is to repair cell damage and prevent them from growing and dividing too quickly – mutated BRCA genes result in abnormal cells which grow uncontrollably24 and are just one of many HRDs. To find out more about BRCA within cancer watch this animation金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台

You can find out more about the DDR, HRD and other molecules involved here金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台


Genetic testing allows both clinicians and patients to make an informed decision when it comes to the treatment they receive. Conducting testing prior to or at the point of diagnosis can be important in improving patient care and enabling access to certain targeted therapies.25 By understanding the heritability of a woman’s cancer (if the mutation she possesses can be inherited) a patient’s family can also understand their risk of developing the disease – understanding the full picture has  important implications for cancer risk assessment and prevention among relatives.26金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台


It’s one thing to know the link between genetic mutations and cancer development, another to leverage the science and target genetic vulnerability in order to optimise treatment. Targeted therapy for advanced ovarian cancer hinges on understanding the repair pathways and exploiting HRD by targeting PARPs. By inhibiting PARPs, the cells can’t repair single-stranded DNA breaks through its normal way and must rely on other pathways (such as HRR) to do so. Because cancer cells have HRD there are already fewer functional pathways; for BRCA mutations, there are fewer HRR pathways. This means cellular damage goes beyond the point of repair and results in cell death. Thus, the growth of abnormal cells is prevented.18金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台


Treatment falls into active and maintenance therapy. Active treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and maintenance therapy typically follows one round of active treatment. When a woman with ovarian cancer is in remission, she may have no treatment or otherwise undergo maintenance therapy to control the cancer. 27,28 Age may influence such treatment options.29金沙官网金沙注册金沙平台





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12. Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance. (2019). About Stage III Ovarian Cancer. Available at: ocrahope.org/patients/about-ovarian-cancer/staging/stage-3/ [Accessed May 2020].

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14. Cancer.org. 2018. Cancer Facts and Figures: Special Section Ovarian Cancer. Available at: https://contentsubscription.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2018/cancer-facts-and-figures-special-section-ovarian-cancer-2018.pdf [Accessed May 2020].

15. Cancer Research UK. (2019). Ovarian cancer statistics. Available at: www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/ovarian-cancer/incidence#heading-Three [Accessed May 2020].

16. Colombo et al. (2019). ESMO–ESGO consensus conference recommendations on ovarian cancer: pathology and molecular biology, early and advanced stages, borderline tumours and recurrent disease. Annals of Oncology, 30, pp.672-705.

17. Cancer Research UK. (2019). Screening. Available at: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/ovarian-cancer/getting-diagnosed/screening [Accessed May 2020].

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19. World Ovarian Cancer Day. What is Ovarian Cancer? Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/brca-fact-sheet [Accessed May 2020].

20. Ciccia, A. et al. (2010). The DNA Damage Response: Making it Safe to Play with Knives. Molecular Cell, 40 (2), pp 179-204.

21. Stover, E. et al. (2016). Biomarkers of Response and Resistance to DNA Repair Targeted Therapies. Clinical Cancer Research, 22(23).

22. Pascal. (2018). The comings and goings of PARP-1 in response to DNA damage. DNA Repair, 71, pp.177–182.

23. Bonadio et al. 2018. Homologous recombination deficiency in ovarian cancer: a review of its epidemiology and management. Clinics, 73(suppl 1).

24. Ovarian Cancer Action. What Are Genetic Mutations? Available at http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/brca-fact-sheet [Accessed May 2020].

25. Fan. (2013). Companion Diagnostic Testing for Targeted Cancer Therapies: An Overview. Genetic testing and molecular biomarkers, 17(7), pp. 515-523.

26. National Cancer Institute. (2019). BRCA1 and BRCA 1: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/brca-fact-sheet [Accessed May 2020].

27. Force. (2018). Ovarian Cancer Treatment. Available at: https://www.facingourrisk.org/understanding-brca-and-hboc/information/cancertreatment/ovarian-treatment/basics/maintenance-therapy-ovarian-cancer.php [Accessed May 2020].

28. Cancer Council Queensland - Active Treatment. Available at: https://cancerqld.org.au/glossary/active-treatment/ [Accessed May 2020].

29. Foster et al. (2010). How Does Older Age Influence Oncologists' Cancer Management? The Oncologist, 15(6), pp.584–592.


Veeva ID: Z4-24314
Date of Preparation: 14/05/2020
Date of Expiry: 14/05/2022