The newest study of the University of Washingthon in Seattle suggests that a genetic test of homologous recombination genes might help predict outcomes for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. According to this study, ovarian cancer patients with mutations in at least one DNA repair gene tend to live longer than patients who do not have any mutations in these genes. The findings were released at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology in San Diego, held from March 19 to 22.
Each year, about 20,000 women in the United States get ovarian cancer. This type of cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. In 2012 (which is the most recent year numbers are available), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 20,785 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 14,404 had died from this disease.
Team of researchers of the University of Washington in Seattle, sequenced DNA from blood or tumors, or both, from 1,195 women using a gene panel test, BROCA-HR. They found that 25.6 percent of the women had a mutation in at least one of a number of genes predicted to affect DNA repair.
According to the results of the study presented by gynecologic oncologist Dr. Barbara Norquist, all the women who carried mutations in DNA repair genes “had significantly better progression-free and overall survival when compared to those with no mutations.”
“This underscores the message that women with any type of ovarian cancer should have genetic testing, and they should be included in clinical trials of drugs that work best in the setting of HR defects.”, explains Norquist. This means that carrying a DNA repair gene mutation extend survival.
The study found out that for women without mutations, the median progression-free survival, which measures the amount of time that the cancer has not progressed, was just over a year (12.6 months), while the overall survival was about 3.5 years. The researchers reported that women with the mutation in the BRCA1 gene had an overall survival of 4.5 years, which was one year more than the overall survival rate recorded in women without this mutation, and an average survival of 15.7 months.
Women who had a BRAC2 mutation had even better survival rates. For this group, overall survival was more than six years, and median progression-free survival was 21.6 months.
The study’s findings, which were presented at the 2016 Society of Gynecologic Oncology meeting, will help the doctors plan out treatment plans that will extend the survival rates of the patients with these mutations.