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Aggressive Ovarian Cancer May Be Linked to Blood Disorder

Aggressive Ovarian Cancer May Be Linked to Blood Disorder

Aggressive ovarian cancer may be linked to the presence
of thrombocytosis, report investigators from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los
Angeles. The findings, presented at the 2002 annual meeting of the Society of
Gynecologic Oncologists, may lead to the development of more targeted therapies
and help physicians to offer their patients more effective treatment options.

"Our findings show that thrombocytosis correlates with a more aggressive
tumor biology in ovarian cancer and a poorer response to treatment," said
Dr. Beth Karlan, medical director of the Women’s Cancer Research Institute at
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and senior author of the study. "Knowing which
patients have this disorder in addition to their cancer will enable us to select
patients who might benefit from experimental and other treatment
approaches."

Study Results

To determine whether thrombocytosis played a role in ovarian cancer tumor
growth and metastasis, the investigators examined the records of 183 consecutive
patients with and without thrombocytosis who had undergone surgery for advanced
ovarian cancer. They found that 41 of the 183 patients demonstrated
thrombocytosis prior to surgery and that those with the disorder had higher
CA-125 levels, more advanced-stage disease, higher-grade tumors, and a greater
tendency that their cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.

"These findings indicate that thrombocytosis is somehow linked to more
aggressive ovarian cancer," said Dr. Karlan. "Our next step will be to
figure out whether thrombocytosis is a reaction to more aggressive ovarian
cancer or whether the disorder itself exacerbates the disease, leading to poorer
treatment outcomes for patients. What we find may also point to novel prevention
approaches for our patients."

Impact on Survival

Although surgery successfully removed most of the cancer in 87% of all
patients with and without thrombocytosis, the investigators found that almost
half of the patients with thrombocytosis prior to surgery demonstrated a greater
degree of residual cancer after surgery. On the other hand, only 4 of the 142
patients without thrombocytosis were found to have residual disease greater than
1 cm after surgery. Moreover, patients with thrombocytosis remained disease-free
for only about 38 months, while those without the disorder remained disease-free
for approximately 49 months. Ultimately, the women with ovarian cancer who also
had thrombocytosis lived 15 months less than those who did not have the disorder
prior to surgery.

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