The average survival for women with high-grade serous ovarian cancer is around four years, but this varies widely from patient to patient, study authors wrote.
“At the moment, the majority of ovarian cancer patients get the same treatment. It’s not like breast cancer or other cancers where they look at your tumor and select from a range of treatments,” said Susan Ramus, senior author and professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, in a news release provided by the University of Southern California. “So this is a way to stratify patients and potentially give more personalized treatment down the track.”
The USC release noted that the typical way of making survival estimates is “based on a patient’s age and cancer stage.”
Researchers examined tumor samples (excised during cancer surgery) and survivability data from 3,769 women with high-grade ovarian serous cancer from multiple studies. The team designed a test to search for 513 genes linked to the “ovarian cancer disease process,” per the university release. Then they “trained” the model on thousands of tumors, adding in respective gene expression data and duration of survival after diagnosis.
Study authors noted that 276 of the 513 selected genes were associated with overall survival. This way, the test could predict a patient’s five-year survival rate based on their tumor gene expression profile, per the release.
“We envisioned a test to use at the time of diagnosis — to identify patients unlikely to benefit from current treatments and potentially offer them alternatives,” Joshua Millstein, study author and an associate professor of research in preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at USC, said in the release.
“For example, those patients might be good candidates for clinical trials or for different treatments that might improve their survival.”
The work was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, among other institutions.