Women's Health

Ovarian Cancer Analysis Points to Common Gene Mutation, Research Says

Genetic mutations frequently found in the most common form of ovarian cancer were catalogued by U.S. scientists, paving the way for a more effective treatment of the disease.

The detailed genetic map already helped scientists identify existing drugs with the potential for treating the mutations found in ovarian cancer tumors and also identified mutations that could respond to new drugs.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, will contribute to a more personalized approach to cancer medicine because doctors will be able to treat patients according to the genetic mutations that drive the growth and spread of their tumors.

Scientists hope that the Cancer Genome Atlas project findings will allow them to understand how some genes cause cancer and develop drugs that control them.

Francis Collins -- the director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md., which funded the research -- said that “this landmark study is producing impressive insights into the biology of this type of cancer. It will significantly empower the cancer research community to make additional discoveries that will help us treat women with this deadly disease.”

In the study, scientists analyzed 316 ovarian tumors and found that the gene TP53 was present in 96 percent of the cancers. The study also found 108 genes linked to poor survival and 85 genes associated with better survival.

Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of female cancer deaths in the U.S. and kills nearly 14,000 women in the country each year.