Improved Survival of Ovarian Cancer Patients Receiving Treatment Guided by Comprehensive Tumor Profiling

A preliminary report from the Caris Registry™ demonstrated significantly longer post-profiling survival in patients with ovarian, Fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer who were given treatments that their tumor profile showed were likely to benefit.

Data from an ovarian cancer registry presented at the 2014 European Society for Gynaecological Oncology (ESGO) annual meeting reinforce comprehensive tumor profiling as a “game changer” for oncologists.

The preliminary report from the Caris Registry™ demonstrated significantly longer post-profiling survival in patients with ovarian, Fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer who were given treatments that their tumor profile showed were likely to benefit them, as compared with patients who were treated with drugs that profiling suggested would be less effective. Data[1] revealed that patients whose treatment was guided by tumor profiling had a 46% lower risk of death (Hazard Ratio = 0.54, p value = 0.0018).

The comprehensive tumor profiling service used in the study measures a broad range of cancer “biomarkers” (proteins, genes or other molecules that affect how cancer cells grow, multiply and respond to therapies) and interprets the results to identify treatments most likely to be of benefit and help eliminate those that are less likely to benefit the patient. The results allow oncologists to better determine appropriate treatments for each patient, based on the individual makeup of their cancer rather than the site of the tumor.

Data from earlier studies show that comprehensive tumor profiling consistently identifies biomarkers linked to specific treatments in over 90% of patients[2], and that clinicians change their intended treatment decision based on profiling results in over 80% of cases[3].  Across a range of cancer types, tumor profiling-guided treatment has been shown to benefit patients[4] and improve outcomes when compared to unguided treatment[5].  The ESGO data demonstrate that for many ovarian cancer patients who have run out of options, comprehensive tumor profiling consistently offers oncologists actionable insights to help choose a patient’s next treatment and can improve patient outcomes.

Professor Hani Gabra

Professor Hani Gabra

Professor Hani Gabra, author of the ESGO publication and Director, Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre at Imperial College London, said:

“The data presented at ESGO this year further support the use of comprehensive tumor profiling. It offers new options to patients whose cancers are difficult to treat or rare, or who have exhausted standard treatment options. I’m extremely excited to see this breadth of research on a global platform and I am hopeful that profiling will be rapidly adopted in clinical practice in Europe.”

Gilda Witte, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Action

Gilda Witte, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Action

Gilda Witte, Chief Executive of Ovarian Cancer Action, stated:

“In order to improve the outlook for women with ovarian cancer, we need to know much more about types of tumors, and tumor profiling is becoming paramount in this area. We are hugely impressed that Caris is investing in research to provide information on ovarian tumors and we hope that this potentially leads to a breakthrough in treatment which may subsequently impact survivorship.”

Andreas Voss

Andreas Voss, VP of Medical & Clinical Affairs, Caris Life Sciences

Andreas Voss, Vice President, Medical and Clinical Affairs, Caris Life Sciences said:

“Comprehensive tumor profiling is a hot topic this year. It is becoming increasingly clear that the best approach to tumor profiling is to use a variety of methods to test for mutations, gene expression levels, and protein biomarkers. These combined analyses provide a comprehensive report and actionable treatment options for oncologists. Caris Molecular Intelligence™ remains the world’s most advanced commercial tumor profiling service – we are proud to be working with leading oncologists worldwide to bring the benefits of tumor profiling to cancer patients.”

Caris Molecular Intelligence™ is not yet formally reimbursed across Europe but it is available to purchase in all European markets. Individual insurance companies, clinics and organizations in some countries have agreed to reimburse the service on application. Caris Life Sciences is dedicated to working to ensure the service is reimbursed across Europe.

References:

1. Poster by Oliver KE et al. Tumour molecular profile-directed treatment is associated with improved survival in recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer. ESGO 2014. See also Oliver KE et al. The impact of tumor molecular profile-directed treatment on survival in recurrent ovarian cancer. J Clin Oncol 32:5s, 2014 (suppl; abstr 5591).

2. Astsaturov IA et al. Profiling of 1,250 neuroendocrine tumors identifies multiple potential drug targets. J Clin Oncol 32, 2014 (Suppl 3; Abstr 214).

3. Epelbaum R et al. Molecular Profiling (MP)-Selected Therapy for the Treatment of Patients with Advanced Pancreaticobiliary Cancer (PBC), 2013 ASCO GI Symposium. Jan 2013. (Abstract Number 195).

4. Von Hoff D et al., Pilot Study Using Molecular Profiling of Patients’ Tumors to Find Potential Targets and Select Treatments for Their Refractory Cancers, J Clin Oncol. Nov 20;28(33)2010:4877-83. Compare Doroshow JH. Selecting systemic cancer therapy one patient at a time: is there a role for molecular profiling of individual patients with advanced solid tumors? J Clin Oncol. 2010 Nov 20;28(33):4869-71. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2010.31.1472. Epub 2010 Oct 4. [PMID: 20921466].

5. Tsimberidou AM et al., Personalized Medicine in a Phase I Clinical Trials Program: The MD Anderson Cancer Center Initiative. Clin Cancer Res 18:6373-6383.

About Caris Life Sciences and Caris Molecular Intelligence™

Caris Life Sciences is a leading biosciences company focused on fulfilling the promise of precision medicine. Caris Molecular Intelligence™, the industry’s first and largest tumor profiling service, provides oncologists with the most potentially clinically actionable treatment options available to personalize care today. Using a variety of advanced and clinically validated technologies, which assess relevant biological changes in each patient’s tumor, Caris Molecular Intelligence correlates biomarker data generated from a tumor with biomarker/drug associations derived from the cancer clinical literature. The company is also developing a series of blood tests based on its proprietary Carisome® TOP™ platform, a revolutionary blood-based testing technology for diagnosis, prognosis, and theranosis of cancer and other complex diseases. Headquartered in Irving, Texas, Caris Life Sciences offers services throughout Europe, the U.S., Australia, and other international markets. To learn more, please visit http://www.carislifesciences.eu.

Source:  Improved Survival of Ovarian Cancer Patients Receiving Treatment Guided by Comprehensive Tumor Profiling, Caris Life Sciences Press Release, dated September 11, 2014 (with editorial changes)

Related Posts:

WIH Researchers Examine Role of Hormone HE4 in Patient Responses to Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Researchers at Women & Infants’ Hospital of Rhode Island recently published the results of an investigation into the role of hormone HE4 in patient responses to ovarian cancer treatment.

Researchers at Women & Infants’ Hospital of Rhode Island recently published the results of an investigation into how we might better tailor therapy for ovarian cancer.

The work comes out of the molecular therapeutic laboratory directed by Richard G. Moore, M.D., of Women & Infants’ Program in Women’s Oncology. Entitled “HE4 expression is associated with hormonal elements and mediated by importin-dependent nuclear translocation,” the research was recently published in the international science journal Scientific Reports, a Nature publishing group.

The goal of the study was to investigate the role of the hormone HE4 (Human epididymis protein 4) in modulating ovarian cancer’s response to hormones and hormonal therapies. HE4 is a biomarker that is elevated in ovarian cancer and is known to play a role in resistance to chemotherapy.

Richard G. Moore, M.D.

Richard G. Moore, M.D.

“There is little known about the biologic functions of HE4 but we did know that there were hormonal responsive elements within the promoter region of the HE4 gene, which regulates gene expression. For this reason, we hypothesized that steroid hormones could influence expression of HE4 in ovarian cancer,” Moore explains.

The study resulted in multiple findings:

  • Hormonal therapies like tamoxifen (Nolvadex) and fulvestrant (Faslodex) are effective because they bind the estrogen receptor. If cells have less estrogen receptor expression, these drugs can’t do their job. This, the researchers believe, is due to epigenetic modifications which modify the DNA structure but not the DNA sequence itself. Overexpression led to the epigenetic modification known as decreased DNA methylation in cell culture and in human tissue samples.
  • Treatment of ovarian cancer cells with tamoxifen and fulvestrant all cause HE4 to translocate to the cell nucleus, where it can then effect further gene expression in cancer cells.
  • Using the drug ivermectin (broad-spectrum antiparasitic agent), the researchers were able to inhibit the protein import in-4, which then inhibited HE4 from translocating to the nucleus. If HE4 can’t enter the nucleus, it cannot affect gene expression. The ability to block HE4 from entering the nucleus restored sensitivity to hormonal therapy.

“We are not certain but believe this might mean there could be a subset of women whose tumors are more likely to respond to hormonal therapy. Moreover, we might be able to eventually identify which tumors these are and target treatment,” Moore says.

Dr. Moore’s lab will continue to investigate the expression of estrogen receptors in both primary and recurrent ovarian cancers and how that relates to HE4 expression. In addition, Dr. Moore and other researchers will investigate how importin inhibitors may play a role in addressing chemoresistance to standard therapeutics, particularly in HE4 overexpressing tumors.

About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants’ Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. The primary teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants’ is the eighth largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country with nearly 8,400 deliveries per year.In 2009, Women & Infants opened the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

New England’s premier hospital for women and newborns, Women & Infants’ and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, women’s mental health, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s only mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants’ Hospital has been designated as a Breast Center of Excellence from the American College of Radiography; a Center for In Vitro Maturation Excellence by SAGE In Vitro Fertilization; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health; and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the National Institutes of Health’s Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.

Sources:

  • Lokich E et al. “HE4 expression is associated with hormonal elements and mediated by importin-dependent nuclear translocation.” Sci Rep. 2014 Jun 30;4:5500. doi: 10.1038/srep05500. [PMID:24975515] [PMCID:PMC4074789]

Related Posts:

  • Small Phase II Study Tests the Use of Fulvestrant in the Treatment of Recurrent Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (March 15, 2009).
  • European Researchers Find Estrogen Receptor Gene Amplification Occurs Rarely in Ovarian Cancer (February 24, 2009).
  • Working Smarter, Not Harder: Use of Anti-Estrogen Therapy to Battle Recurrent Ovarian Cancer (August 18, 2008).

SU2C Announces the Formation of a New Translational Research Ovarian Cancer “Dream Team”

Ovarian Cancer Community Joins Forces to Fight Deadliest Gynecologic Cancer. The New Stand Up To Cancer Dream Team Will Launch in 2015.

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Team Up to Fund New Translational Research Ovarian Cancer “Dream Team.”

 

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A groundbreaking collaboration is underway among three national ovarian cancer organizations: Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF), Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA), and National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC). In partnership with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), this group will fund a new Ovarian Cancer Dream Team dedicated to piloting leading-edge, ovarian cancer research that will help patients and save lives.

This partnership was announced tonight by actor Pierce Brosnan on the Stand Up To Cancer’s biennial telecast, and in recognition of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The SU2C-OCRF-OCNA-NOCC Translational Research Dream Team grant will provide funding, over a three-year period, for research associated with this insidious disease.

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all the gynecologic cancers. Almost 22,000 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014, and more than 14,000 women will lose their lives to the disease. By collaborating to fund an Ovarian Cancer Dream Team, OCRF, OCNA and NOCC, with SU2C, will further research in the field that can lead to new treatments and improved patient outcomes.

Later this month, SU2C, through its science partner the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), will issue a “Call for Ideas” from researchers and scientists worldwide. The selected Dream Team will be announced next spring, with research beginning in July 2015.

OCRF“Ovarian Cancer Research Fund has been the leading nonprofit funder of ovarian cancer research for years, and this new collaboration is a wonderful way to mark our 20th anniversary,” said Audra Moran, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. “We are excited that the Dream Team grant will continue our long tradition of supporting the most innovative research in the field, while providing scientists with a vital new source of financial support.”

OCNA1Calaneet Balas, CEO of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, said: “I am so thrilled that our three organizations are coming together to fight the disease we all care so much about. I believe the Ovarian Cancer Dream Team will be paradigm-shifting for our community, and I cannot wait to see what comes from this new initiative. We’re proud of the work the Alliance has done to secure federal research funding on behalf of all women, but the Dream Team gives us new opportunities for collaboration and innovation.”

NOCC - Logo“We are both proud and excited to join in supporting the Ovarian Cancer Dream Team, the first-ever collaboration of such efforts,” said David Barley, CEO of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. “We are looking forward to being instrumental in furthering ovarian cancer research. The impacts on families and communities continue to make ovarian cancer “More Than a Woman’s Disease®.” By working together we hope to make a difference in the lives of everyone we touch.”

About the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF), founded in 1994, is the oldest and largest charity in the United States funding ovarian cancer research, and ranks third in overall ovarian cancer research funding only after the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Its mission is to fund scientific research that leads to more effective identification, treatment, and ultimately a cure for ovarian cancer, as well as related educational and support initiatives. OCRF has invested nearly $60 million in ovarian cancer research through 217 grants to scientists at 65 leading medical centers in the United States. OCRF continues to take the lead in funding the best and most promising ovarian cancer research while supporting women and their loved ones affected by this terrible disease in our quest to end it. For more information, please visit www.ocrf.org.

About the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance
The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is a powerful voice for everyone touched by ovarian cancer. We connect survivors, women at risk, caregivers, and health providers with the information and resources they need. We ensure that ovarian cancer is a priority for lawmakers and agencies in Washington, DC, and throughout the country. We help our community raise their voices on behalf of every life that has been affected by this disease. For more information, please visit: www.ovariancancer.org

About the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
Since its inception in 1995, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) has been committed to raising awareness, promoting education, and funding research in support of women, families, and communities touched by ovarian cancer. NOCC is well-established as an important national advocate for patients and families struggling with ovarian cancer. NOCC remains steadfast in its mission to save lives by fighting tirelessly to prevent and cure ovarian cancer, and to improve the quality of life for survivors. For more information, please visit: www.ovarian.org.

About Stand Up To Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry’s resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, and to increase awareness about cancer prevention as well as progress being made in the fight against the disease. For more information, please visit: www.standup2cancer.org

U.S. President Barack Obama Proclaims September 2014 As National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month — What Should You Know?

Today, U.S. President Barack Obama designated September 2014 as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. “This month, our Nation stands with everyone who has been touched by this disease, and we recognize all those committed to advancing the fight against this cancer through research, advocacy, and quality care. Together, let us renew our commitment to reducing the impact of ovarian cancer and to a future free from cancer in all its forms.”

WhiteHouse-LogoToday, U.S. President Barack Obama designated September 2014 as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The Presidential Proclamation is reproduced in full below.

During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ will continue to honor the women who have lost their lives to the disease (including our own Elizabeth “Libby” Remick), support those who are currently battling the disease, and celebrate with those who have beaten the disease. This month, medical doctors, research scientists, and ovarian cancer advocates renew their commitment to develop a reliable early screening test, improve current treatments, discover new groundbreaking therapies, and ultimately, defeat the most lethal gynecologic cancer.

Let us begin this month with several important facts relating to ovarian cancer. Please take time to review these facts — they may save your life or that of a loved one.

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Ovarian Cancer Facts

Lethality. Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

Statistics. In 2014, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be approximately 21,980 new ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. ACS estimates that 14,270 U.S. women will die from the disease, or about 39 women per day or 1-to-2 women every hour. This loss of life is equivalent to 28 Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashes with no survivors — each and every year.

Signs & Symptoms. Ovarian cancer is not a “silent” disease; it is a “subtle” disease. Recent studies indicate that women with ovarian cancer are more like to experience four persistent, nonspecific symptoms as compared with women in the general population, such as (i) bloating, (ii) pelvic or abdominal pain, (iii) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or (iv) urinary urgency or frequency. Women who experience such symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should seek prompt medical evaluation. Note: Several other symptoms have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. However, these additional symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also found in equal frequency in women within the general population who do not have the disease.

Age. Although the median age of a woman with ovarian cancer at initial diagnosis is 63, the disease cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women. Ovarian cancer does not discriminate based upon age.

Prevention. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, long-term use of oral contraceptives, and tubal ligation reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Risk Factors.

  • BRCA Gene Mutations. Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Women who test positive for inherited mutations in the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene have an increased lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer. A women can inherit a mutated BRCA gene from her mother or father. Women of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry are at higher risk (1 out of 40) for inherited BRCA gene mutations. Studies suggest that preventive surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes in women possessing BRCA gene mutations can decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Lynch Syndrome. An inherited genetic condition called “hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer” (also called “Lynch syndrome“), which significantly increases the risk of colon/rectal cancer (and also increases the risk of other types of cancers such as endometrial (uterine), stomach, breast, small bowel (intestinal), pancreatic, urinary tract, liver, kidney, and bile duct cancers), also increases ovarian cancer risk.
  • Hormone Therapy. The use of estrogen alone menopausal hormone therapy may increase ovarian cancer risk. The longer estrogen alone replacement therapy is used, the greater the risk may be. The increased risk is less certain for women taking both estrogen and progesterone, although a large 2009 Danish study involving over 900,000 women suggests that combination hormone therapy may increase risk. Because some health benefits have been identified with hormone replacement therapy, a women should seek her doctor’s advice regarding risk verses benefit based on her specific factual case.
  • Smoking. Smoking has been linked to an increase in mucinous epithelial ovarian cancer.

Early Detection. There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. A Pap smear cannot detect ovarian cancer. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA-125 may be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed above. This early detection strategy has shown promise in a 2013 University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center early detection study involving over 4,000 women. Importantly, another large ovarian cancer screening trial that is using similar early detection methods is under way in the United Kingdom, with results expected in 2015. The U.K. study is called “UKCTOCS” (UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening) and involves over 200,000 women aged 50-74 years.

Treatment.

  • Treatment includes surgery and usually chemotherapy.
  • Surgery usually includes removal of one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes (salpingo-oophorectomy), the uterus (hysterectomy), and the omentum (fatty tissue attached to some of the organs in the belly), along with biopsies of the peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity) and peritoneal cavity fluid.
  • In younger women with very early stage tumors who wish to have children, removal of only the involved ovary and fallopian tube may be possible.
  • Among patients with early ovarian cancer, complete surgical staging has been associated with better outcomes.
  • For women with advanced disease, surgically removing all abdominal metastases larger than one centimeter (debulking) enhances the effect of chemotherapy and helps improve survival.
  • For women with stage III ovarian cancer that has been optimally debulked, studies have shown that chemotherapy administered both intravenously and directly into the abdomen (intraperitoneally) improves survival.
  • Patients can enter clinical trials at the start of, during the course of, and even after, their ovarian cancer treatment(s).
  • New types of treatment are being tested in ovarian and solid tumor clinical trials, including “biological therapy” and “targeted therapy.” For example, these types of treatment can exploit biological/molecular characteristics unique to an ovarian cancer patient’s specific tumor classification, or better “train” the patient’s own immune system to identify and attack her tumor cells, without harming normal cells.

Survival. 

  • If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 15% of all cases are detected at an early stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure. The majority of cases (61%) are diagnosed at a distant or later stage of the disease.
  • Overall, the 1-, 5-, and 10-year relative survival of ovarian cancer patients is 75%, 44%, and 34%, respectively.
  • The 10-year relative survival rate for all disease stages combined is only 38%.
  • Relative survival varies by age; women younger than 65 are twice as likely to survive 5 years (56%) following diagnosis as compared to women 65 and older (27%).

Help Spread the Word to “B-E-A-T” Ovarian Cancer

Please help us “B-E-A-T” ovarian cancer by spreading the word about the early warning signs & symptoms of the disease throughout the month of September.

beatlogo_308x196B = bloating that is persistent and does not come and go

E = eating less and feeling fuller

A =abdominal or pelvic pain

T = trouble with urination (urgency or frequency)

Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. As noted above, early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.

__________________________________________________________

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 29, 2014

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

obama_signing

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly of all female reproductive system cancers. This year nearly 22,000 Americans will be diagnosed with this cancer, and more than 14,000 will die from it. The lives of mothers and daughters will be taken too soon, and the pain of this disease will touch too many families. During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we honor the loved ones we have lost to this disease and all those who battle it today, and we continue our work to improve care and raise awareness about ovarian cancer.

When ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, treatment is most effective and the chances for recovery are greatest. But ovarian cancer is difficult to detect early — there is no simple and reliable way to screen for this disease, symptoms are often not clear until later stages, and most women are diagnosed without being at high risk. That is why it is important for all women to pay attention to their bodies and know what is normal for them. Women who experience unexplained changes — including abdominal pain, pressure, and swelling — should talk with their health care provider. To learn more about the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer, Americans can visit www.Cancer.gov.

Regular health checkups increase the chance of early detection, and the Affordable Care Act expands this critical care to millions of women. Insurance companies are now required to cover well-woman visits, which provide women an opportunity to talk with their health care provider, and insurers are prohibited from charging a copayment for this service.

For the thousands of women affected by ovarian cancer, the Affordable Care Act also prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage due to a pre-existing condition, such as cancer or a family history of cancer; prevents insurers from denying participation in an approved clinical trial for any life-threatening disease; and eliminates annual and lifetime dollar limits on coverage. And as we work to ease the burden of ovarian cancer for today’s patients, my Administration continues to invest in the critical research that will lead to earlier detection, improved care, and the medical breakthroughs of tomorrow.

Ovarian cancer and the hardship it brings have affected too many lives. This month, our Nation stands with everyone who has been touched by this disease, and we recognize all those committed to advancing the fight against this cancer through research, advocacy, and quality care. Together, let us renew our commitment to reducing the impact of ovarian cancer and to a future free from cancer in all its forms.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2014 as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. I call upon citizens, government agencies, organizations, health care providers, and research institutions to raise ovarian cancer awareness and continue helping Americans live longer, healthier lives. I also urge women across our country to talk to their health care providers and learn more about this disease.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA

__________________________________________________________

Sources:

  • Cancer Facts & Figures 2014. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2014 [PDF file].
  • Presidential Proclamation — National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, 2013, Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, August 29, 2014.

National Women’s Health Week — Learn, Spread the Word & Join!

National Women’s Health Week begins on Mother’s Day each year. During this week, individuals, families, communities, and others work to help women learn how to achieve longer, healthier, and safer lives.

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Beginning with Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 11, we celebrate National Women’s Health Week by encouraging the women in our lives – our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, friends, and colleagues – to take steps to live healthier, happier lives.

We know that women are often the ones who make sure that everyone – everyone else, that is – in our families are cared for. But too often, women put their own health last.

But the reality is unless you take care of yourself, you cannot really take care of your family. That means eating right, exercising, quitting smoking, and getting the care necessary to stay healthy. In fact, you can now use websites, apps, and mobile devices to help you track and manage your health.

Preventive services are critical to helping us stay healthy, but unfortunately they have not always been affordable. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it is a new day for women’s health by making it easier for women to take control of their own health.

For many women, preventive services like mammograms, birth control, smoking cessation services, and annual well-woman visits are now available without any out-of-pocket costs. Also, as of 2014, the Affordable Care Act requires most insurers to cover maternity benefits as part of the package of essential health benefits.

And insurers can no longer refuse women coverage just because they’re battling cancer or have another pre-existing condition – and they won’t be allowed to charge women more just because they’re women. Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.

It’s not just women with job-based insurance who are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act. The law has greatly expanded access to quality, affordable health coverage to uninsured women and men. More than 8 million Americans – more than 4.3 million of whom are women – have enrolled in affordable health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Open enrollment begins again in November.

Learn

On Sunday, May 11, 2014, President Barrack Obama proclaimed May 11 through 17, National’s Women’s Health Week. National Women’s Health Week is an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (OWH). The goal is to empower women to make their health a priority. National Women’s Health Week also serves as a time to help women understand what it means to be well.

What does it mean to be a well woman?

It’s a state of mind. It’s being as healthy as you can be. And, most importantly, it’s about taking steps to improve your physical and mental health:

Check out the National Women’s Health Week infographics.

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Download OWH’s National Women’s Health Week infographics.

How can you celebrate National Women’s Health Week?

The OWH invites women across the country to join in the celebration:

Download a copy of the National Women’s Health Week fact sheet.

Spread the Word

Spread the word about National Women’s Health Week to your mom, sisters, daughters, friends, and coworkers! Invite them to join in the celebration by using the resources below.

Join

Join or plan a Meetup

Join us in celebrating National Women’s Health Week by hosting or attending an event in your area. This year, we’re asking you to register your National Women’s Health Week event with Meetup Everywhere.

Join the President’s Challenge

The President’s Challenge is the premier program of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition administered through a co-sponsorship agreement with the Amateur Athletic Union. The President’s Challenge helps people of all ages and abilities increase their physical activity and improve their fitness through research-based information, easy-to-use tools, and friendly motivation.

NWHW-infographic-well-woman-visitCelebrate National Women’s Checkup Day 

National Women’s Checkup Day is led by OWH. Our goal is to encourage women to schedule an annual well-woman visit.

A well-woman visit is a checkup. It’s a time to see your health care provider to:

  • Discuss your health habits and family history.
  • Get or schedule necessary screenings and exams.
  • Set health goals.
  • Schedule your well-woman visit every year.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it’s considered a preventive service and must be covered by most health plans at no cost to you. During your well-woman visit, you can receive many screenings free of charge, such as screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, cervical cancer, and more. And if your health care provider says you need more than one well-woman visit in a year, the additional visits are also covered.

When is National Women’s Checkup Day?

The 12th annual National Women’s Checkup Day is today, Monday, May 12, 2014, during National Women’s Health Week.

Why is it important for women to participate in this effort?

Well-woman visits help you get the preventive care you need, including screenings. Screenings can find diseases early, when they are easier to treat. Screenings can also identify other problems and help lower your risk for many conditions, such as heart disease. Under the Affordable Care Act, many women can receive these services without paying a deductible or copay.

How can you participate in this important event?

There are several ways to participate in National Women’s Checkup Day:

 

Glutamine Ratio is Key Ovarian Cancer Indicator

Glutamine plays an important role in cellular growth in several cancers. A Rice University-led study shows how ovarian cancer metabolism changes between early and late stages. In this study, a further link between glutamine dependency and tumor invasiveness is established in ovarian cancer.

A Rice University-led analysis of the metabolic profiles of hundreds of ovarian tumors has revealed a new test to determine whether ovarian cancer cells have the potential to metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body. The study also suggests how ovarian cancer treatments can be tailored based on the metabolic profile of a particular tumor.

The research, which appears online this week in Molecular Systems Biology, was conducted at the Texas Medical Center in Houston by researchers from Rice University, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and the Baylor College of Medicine.

Deepak Nagrath

Deepak Nagrath, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University

“We found a striking difference between the metabolic profiles of poorly aggressive and highly aggressive ovarian tumor cells, particularly with respect to their production and use of the amino acid glutamine,” said lead researcher Deepak Nagrath Ph.D. of Rice University. “For example, we found that highly aggressive ovarian cancer cells are glutamine-dependent, and in our laboratory studies, we showed that depriving such cells of external sources of glutamine — as some experimental drugs do — was an effective way to kill late-stage cells.

“The story for poorly aggressive cells was quite different,” said Nagrath, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice. “These cells use an internal metabolic pathway to produce a significant portion of the glutamine that they consume, so a different type of treatment — one aimed toward internal glutamine sources — will be needed to target cells of this type.”

The research is part of a growing effort among cancer researchers worldwide to create treatments that target the altered metabolism of cancer cells. It has long been known that cancer cells adjust their metabolism in subtle ways that allow them to proliferate faster and survive better. In 1924, Otto Warburg showed that cancer cells produced far more energy from glycolysis than did normal cells. The Nobel Prize-winning discovery became known as the “Warburg effect,” and researchers long believed that all cancers behaved in this way. Intense research in recent decades has revealed a more nuanced picture.

“Each type of cancer appears to have its own metabolic signature,” Nagrath said. “For instance, kidney cancer does not rely on glutamine, and though breast cancer gets some of its energy from glutamine, it gets even more from glycolysis. For other cancers, including glioblastoma and pancreatic cancer, glutamine appears to be the primary energy source.”

Rice University Researchers

Researchers at Rice University’s Laboratory for Systems Biology of Human Diseases analyzed the metabolic profiles of hundreds of ovarian tumors and discovered a new test to determine whether ovarian cancer cells have the potential to metastasize. Study co-authors include, from left, Julia Win, Stephen Wahlig, Deepak Nagrath, Hongyun Zhao, Lifeng Yang and Abhinav Achreja.

Nagrath, director of Rice University’s Laboratory for Systems Biology of Human Diseases, said the new metabolic analysis indicates that ovarian cancer may be susceptible to multidrug cocktails, particularly if the amounts of the drugs can be tailored to match the metabolic profile of a patient’s tumor.

The research also revealed a specific biochemical test that pathologists could use to guide such treatments. The test involves measuring the ratio between the amount of glutamine that a cell takes up from outside and the amount of glutamine it makes internally.

“This ratio proved to be a robust marker for prognosis,” said University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center co-author Anil Sood, M.D., Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine and co-director of the Center for RNA Interference and Non-Coding RNA. “A high ratio was directly correlated to tumor aggression and metastatic capability. Patients with this profile had the worst prognosis for survival.”

The three-year study included cell culture studies at Rice as well as a detailed analysis of gene-expression profiles of more than 500 patients from the Cancer Genome Atlas and protein-expression profiles from about 200 M.D. Anderson patients.

“The enzyme glutaminase is key to glutamine uptake from outside the cell, and glutaminase is the primary target that everybody is thinking about right now in developing drugs,” Nagrath said. “We found that targeting only glutaminase will miss the less aggressive ovarian cancer cells because they are at a metabolic stage where they are not yet glutamine-dependent.”

Lifeng

Lifeng Yang, Study Lead Author & Graduate Student, Systems Biology of Human Diseases, Rice University

Rice University graduate student Lifeng Yang, lead author of the study, designed a preclinical experiment to test the feasibility of a multidrug approach, involving the use of a JAK inhibitor and a glutaminase inhibitor. This “drug cocktail” approach inhibited the early stage production of internal glutamine, while also limiting the uptake of external glutamine.

“That depleted all sources of glutamine for the cells, and we found that cell proliferation decreased significantly,” Yang said.

Nagrath said the study also revealed another key finding — a direct relationship between glutamine and an ovarian cancer biomarker called “STAT3” (Signal Transducer And Activator Of Transcription 3).

“A systems-level understanding of the interactions between metabolism and signaling is vital to developing novel strategies to tackle cancer,” said M.D. Anderson co-author Prahlad Ram Ph.D., Associate Professor of Systems Biology and co-director of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s Systems Biology Program. “STAT3 is the primary marker that is used today to ascertain malignancy, tumor aggression and metastasis in ovarian cancer.”

Nagrath said, “The higher STAT3 is, the more aggressive the cancer. For the first time, we were able to show how glutamine regulates STAT3 expression through a well-known metabolic pathway called the TCA cycle, which is also known as the ‘Krebs cycle.’”

Nagrath said the research is ongoing. Ultimately, Dr. Nagrath hopes the investigations will lead to new treatment regimens for cancer as well as a better understanding of the role of cancer-cell metabolism in metastasis and drug resistance.

Co-authors include Hongyun Zhao, Stephen Wahlig, Abhinav Achreja and Julia Win (all affiliated with Rice University); Tyler Moss, Lingegowda Mangala, Guillermo Armaiz-Pena, Dahai Jiang, Rajesha Roopaimoole, Cristian Rodriguez-Aguayo, Imelda Mercado-Uribe, Gabriel Lopez-Berestein and Jinsong Liu (all affiliated with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center); Juan Marini of Baylor College of Medicine; and Takashi Tsukamoto of Johns Hopkins University.

The research was supported by seed funding from (i) the Collaborative Advances in Biomedical Computing Program at Rice Univesity’s Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology, (ii) Rice University’s John and Ann Doerr Fund for Computational Biomedicine, (iii) the Odyssey Fellowship Program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, (iv) the estate of C.G. Johnson Jr., (v) the National Institutes of Health, (vi) the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, (v) the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, (vi) the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program, (vii) the Gilder Foundation, and (viii) the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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Ovarian Cancer Cells Are More Aggressive On Soft Tissues

When ovarian cancer spreads from the ovaries it almost always does so to a layer of fatty tissue that lines the gut. A new study has found that ovarian cancer cells are more aggressive on these soft tissues due to the mechanical properties of this environment. The finding is contrary to what is seen with other malignant cancer cells that seem to prefer stiffer tissues.

Model Release-YES

Professor Michelle Dawson and graduate student Daniel McGrail used traction force microscopy to measure the forces exerted by cancer cells on soft and stiff surfaces. (Photo Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Institute of Technology)

“What we found is that there are some cancer cells that respond to softness as opposed to stiffness,” said Michelle Dawson, an assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Ovarian cancer cells that are highly metastatic respond to soft environments by becoming more aggressive.”

Ovarian cancer cells spread, or metastasize, by a different method than other cancer cells. Breast cancer cells, for example, break off from a solid tumor and flow through the blood until they arrest in small blood vessels. The cancer cells then penetrate the vessel surface to form a tumor. Because ovarian tumors are in the abdomen, these cancer cells are shed into the surrounding fluid and not distributed through the blood. They must be able to adhere directly to the fatty tissue that lines the gut, called the omentum, to begin forming a tumor. The new study discovered details about how ovarian cancer cells seem to prefer the mechanical properties of this soft tissue.

The study was published in a recent advance online edition of the Journal of Cell Science and was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Georgia Tech and Emory Center for Regenerative Medicine.

The research team, led by Daniel McGrail, a graduate student in the Dawson lab, found that ovarian cancer cells in vitro were more adherent to a layer of soft fat cells than a layer of stiffer bone cells, and that this behavior was also repeated using gels of similar rigidities.

“All the behaviors that we associate with breast cancer cells on these more rigid environments are flipped for ovarian cancer cells,” Dawson said.

After adhering to these soft surfaces, metastatic ovarian cancer cells became more aggressive. Their proliferation increased and they were less responsive to chemotherapeutics. The ovarian cancer cells were also more motile on soft surfaces, moving nearly twice as fast as on rigid surfaces.

The team also found that less aggressive cells that do not metastasize do not exhibit any of these changes.

The researchers used techniques that haven’t been traditionally used in the study of ovarian cancer. They measured the force exerted by the cells by tracking the displacement of beads in the environment around the cells. The researchers found that the metastatic cells increased their traction forces – used to generate motion – by three-fold on soft surfaces, but no such change was present in the less aggressive cells.

“We think the behavior that metastatic ovarian cancer cells exert on these soft surfaces is representative of the mechanical tropism that they have for these softer tissues in the gut,” Dawson said.

In future work, the researchers will investigate whether ovarian cancer cells have some natural inclination towards this uniquely more aggressive behavior in softer environments.

“We’re trying to find out whether there is some internal programming that leads to this aggressive behavior,” Dawson said.

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation under award number 1032527, and the Georgia Tech and Emory Center for Regenerative Medicine under award number 1411304. Any conclusions or opinions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the sponsoring agencies.

Source:  McGrail DJ, et al., The malignancy of metastatic ovarian cancer cells is increased on soft matrices through a mechanosensitive Rho-ROCK pathway. (Journal of Cell Science, 2014). http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/?jcs.144378.