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 of diagnosis.
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 breast.