SAN FRANCISCO--Approximately 6% of all women diagnosed with ovarian
cancer have had a previous diagnosis of breast cancer, Jeffrey
G. Schneider, MD, said at the annual conference of the Society
of Gynecologic Oncologists.
Research from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has shown
that women susceptible to this "double cancer syndrome"
are more likely to have had good prognosis breast cancer at a
relatively early age.
"The double-cancer syndrome--a breast cancer followed by
an ovarian cancer--is a significant problem and has not been previously
characterized," Dr. Schneider, a medical oncologist formerly
at Sloan-Kettering and now at Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola,
NY, told Oncology News International.
The findings from the study may be used to develop a screening
protocol for women with breast cancer, to facilitate early detection
of subsequent ovarian cancers, he said.
Dr. Schneider and his colleagues at Sloan-Kettering reviewed an
ovarian cancer database that included 887 women who presented
to Sloan-Kettering with a diagnosis of epithelial ovarian cancer.
Of that group, 53 (6%) had a previous history of breast cancer.
In this 53-patient cohort, breast cancer presented, on average,
a decade earlier than in typical patients, Dr. Schneider said.
The median age for breast cancer diagnosis in the cohort was 44
years; a third of the patients were younger than 40 at the time
The patients tended to have small tumors, and three quarters had
negative axillary lymph node dissections. These patients had a
low propensity for developing metastatic disease. However, almost
one quarter developed a new primary cancer in the contralateral