Ovarian cancer isn’t one disease, doctors queried for knowledge gap!

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Ovarian cancer should not be categorized as a single disease, but rather as a group of different cancers involving the ovary says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This could have impact on reducing the number of women with ovarian cancers and death in this regard as treatment will be focused on the specific affected area. The research is a call to other researchers to look into ovarian cancers for more specified cause rather referring to the affected parts under a universal name ” ovarian cancer” The researchers find a knowledge gap among experts and calls for better understanding so as to make progress in prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and management of disease achievable. 

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women, with a survival rate of five-year( less than 46 percent).  The five-year survival rate has increased over the years for white women but it has decreased for black women, from 42 percent 36 percent percent between 2005 and 2007. It is referred to as silent killer because of its no symptoms beginning and 2/3 of affected women are diagnosed at the advanced stage reducing the chances of survival at that stage to 30%.
“While progress has been made in ovarian cancer research over the past few decades, much remains to be learned,” said Jerome F. Strauss III, chair of the committee that carried out the study and wrote the report, and executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond.  “The more that is understood about the basic biology of various types of ovarian cancers, such as where they originate in the body, the more rapidly we can move toward advances in prevention, screening, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care.”
The new research found that the ‘ovarian cancer’ ”arise in other tissues besides the ovary, such as the fallopian tubes, which eventually metastasize to the ovary, or they arise from cells that are not considered intrinsic to the ovary.  Furthermore, researchers do not have a complete understanding of how each subtype of ovarian cancer progresses.” he said.

The committee set up to evaluate the research findings recommend further research that will ”determine the cellular origins and how the disease develops. Better methods for identifying high-risk women could facilitate the prevention or early detection of ovarian cancers”, the committee said.
Genetic testing for women is recommended by experts in addition to counselling women for therapies option . BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, also associated with increased risk for breast cancer, are among the most recognizable ovarian cancer risk-related genes.
”A family history of ovarian cancer, specific inherited genetic mutations, and certain hereditary cancer syndromes have strong links with risk for ovarian cancers. However, genetic counseling and testing for women at risk has not been universally adopted”,they noted.  The committee called for the development and implementation of innovative strategies to increase genetic counseling and testing as well as testing relatives for known inherited genetic predispositions to the disease.

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”Furthermore, researchers, clinicians, and commercial laboratories should determine the analytic performance and clinical utility of testing for other gene mutations beyond BRCA1 and BRCA2”, the committee said.

The knowledge base on ovarian cancers has advanced, but not all stake holder groups are receiving important messages, which may contribute to the current variability in the delivery of the standard of care.  The committee recommended that stakeholders in ovarian cancer research, gynecologists,clinical care, and advocacy coordinate the efforts to develop and implement efficient, effective, and reliable methods for the rapid dissemination and implementation of evidence-based information and practices to patients, families, health care providers, advocates, and other relevant parties.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, news release
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