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Content archived on 2024-06-16

Ovarian Cancer - Diagnosing a Silent Killer


In Europe 63000 ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed and 41000 ovarian cancer patients die annually. 75% of patients are diagnosed at advanced stages due to an asymptomatic course. 75% of these patients die within 5 years. Treatment involves surgery follow ed by chemotherapy. However, 25% of patients relapse within 6 months after initial treatment. There is doubt whether these patients benefit from this therapy at all. Recurrent disease is diagnosed by clinical evidences or by CA125 dynamics. But detection is limited due to lack of sensitivity and specificity, as is the case with primary diagnosis. Currently, there is no method to detect minimal disease, the first indicator of therapy failure and precursor of recurrence, which inevitably leaves specific t races through out the body. There is strong need for molecular-oriented research to detect minimal disease in order to disburden patients from an inefficient and toxic therapy. The aim of this project is to define clinically useful molecular-orientated ea rly detection of minimal disease in ovarian cancer that can identify patients not responding to the standard therapy at the time of surgery. This will eventually lead to alternative therapy modalities, which can really bring benefits to this group of pat ients. "Signatures" that signal the presence of minimal disease will be systematically investigated at various molecular levels (DNA, RNA and protein) and in a broad spectrum of biological materials (tumour tissue, disseminated tumour cells, sera, white blood cells, ascites) from ovarian cancer patients. Profiling of chromosomal loss or gain, gene methylation and mutations, mRNA expression and protein will be analyzed. Specific signatures that predict patients¿ outcome or indicate minimal disease, even tually suitable for early primary diagnosis, will be extracted.

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