Opportunities and challenges in ovarian cancer research, a perspective from the 11th Ovarian cancer action/HHMT Forum, Lake Como, March 2007

Alan Ashworth, Frances Balkwill, Robert C. Bast, Jonathan S. Berek, Allyson Kaye, Jeffrey A. Boyd, Gordon Mills, John N. Weinstein, Katie Woolley, Paul Workman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Advances in surgery and chemotherapy have improved the 5-year survival for patients with epithelial ovarian cancer, but have not impacted on the ultimate rate of cure in a disease that is diagnosed in late stage and that recurs in the majority of patients. "Omic" technologies promise to define genetically driven aberrant signaling pathways in malignant cells, provided that bioinformatic expertise can be focused on a cancer that is neither common nor rare. Molecular therapeutics must be linked to molecular diagnostics to permit individualized therapy. Not only epithelial cancer cells but also stroma, vasculature and the immune response must be targeted. Closer collaboration between academic institutions, biotech and pharma will be required to facilitate this process and to interest the private sector in an orphan disease. New preclinical models may permit more efficient development of drugs and siRNA that can target dormant drug resistant stem cells. Strategies must be developed to deal with the heterogeneity of different grades and histotypes. Identification of women at increased risk will facilitate prevention and early detection in subsets of patients. BRCA1/2 might be sequenced in all ovarian cancer patients to identify new kindreds. Epidemiologic algorithms are being developed and validated. Awareness must be raised that oral contraceptives can reduce risk of developing ovarian cancer by 50%. Early detection is likely to require panels of complementary biomarkers, analyzed by sophisticated statistical techniques, to improve sensitivity while maintaining extremely high specificity. As ovarian cancer becomes a chronic disease, greater emphasis will be placed on the challenges facing survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-657
Number of pages6
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug development
  • Early detection
  • Genomics
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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