Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Major Areas of Research


Ovarian Cancer

Cancer Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention and Control researchers are conducting a number of studies into the pathogenesis of ovarian cancer with the goal of improving current screening and treatment strategies. Their efforts have identified early symptoms of ovarian cancer before it has spread beyond the ovary, and the protective effect of oral contraceptive use among BRCA1 mutation carriers. Researchers are currently investigating the expression levels of ten proteins considered to be potentially important in disease progression and how these levels differ across subgroups defined by patient characteristics and tumor histopathology.

In 1997, Dr. Whittemore, with Drs. John, McGuire, and West received funding to develop an Ovarian Cancer Family Registry (Ovarian-CFR), based on the model of the Breast-CFR (recruitment of probands and family members from whom demographic, diet and other risk data, blood and tumor specimens were collected). During the ensuing five years 690 cases and their family members and 340 population controls were recruited and 667 (94%) patients provided permission to obtain paraffin-embedded ovarian tissue samples, which are now being collected. Drs. McGuire, John, West, and Whittemore evaluated data from the Ovarian-CFR covering reproductive characteristics in BRCA1 mutation and non-mutation carriers. They found a protective effect of oral contraceptive use among BRCA1 mutation carriers of equal magnitude to that seen among non-carriers (Am J Epidemiol, 180:613, 2004).

Dr. Ellen Chang is working with Drs. Horn-Ross and Clarke and other investigators involved with the California Teachers Study to investigate the association of diet and alcohol intake with risk of ovarian cancer. They found a significant risk for wine consumption but not for total alcohol or beer or spirit use. Dr. Chang will also exploit the phytoestrogen and isothiocyanate databases developed by Dr. Horn-Ross to examine whether dietary intake of these phytochemicals is associated with ovarian cancer risk.


This document was last modified: Monday, 27-Jun-2011 13:29:25 PDT

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