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Fox Chase Cancer Center Begins Ovarian Cancer Proteomics Study to Identify Biologic "Fingerprint" of the Disease

Specialized Treatment for Ovarian Cancer

PHILADELPHIA (February 10, 2006) -- Fox Chase Cancer Center researchers are seeking women who recently have been treated for ovarian cancer to participate in a nationwide effort to find a biologic "fingerprint" of ovarian cancer using a technology called proteomics.

Proteomics is the study of protein patterns in blood or other tissues used to determine cancer probabilities. In a previously published study, researchers used proteomics to successfully differentiate blood samples from women with and without ovarian cancer. This new study is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and involves Fox Chase and 11 other U.S. institutions.

"Proteomics offers significant hope as a cancer diagnostic tool, but while the earlier study appears promising, the results must be validated," explained Mary Daly, MD, PhD, a world-renown medical oncologist and co-investigator of the study at Fox Chase. "To do this, we'll begin studying proteomics using blood from women who have had ovarian cancer to see if we can identify a specific protein pattern in those women whose cancers may later recur." Over 80 percent of advanced-stage ovarian cancer patients in remission have recurrence of their disease.

Researchers say proteomics offers the future hope of allowing doctors to diagnose cancer at an early stage when it is most curable. In addition, proteomics could allow physicians to diagnose ovarian cancer without the need for a biopsy or surgery.

"As of now, the only way to confirm that a woman has ovarian cancer is to surgically remove the ovaries," explained Mitchell Edelson, MD, chief of the section of gynecologic oncology at Fox Chase and co-investigator of the study. "Before a new blood test can be offered as a way to detect ovarian cancer, we must first confirm that there is a pattern of proteins specific to ovarian cancer. Any test for ovarian cancer must be proven to be reliable and dependable so that women don't get needless surgeries because of a false-positive result."

The clinical trial also is open to women who have had peritoneal and fallopian tube cancers. Women in the study must have had Stage III or IV disease at diagnosis, and must have completed initial standard treatment within 12 weeks of enrolling in the proteomics study. Participants will be asked to give blood every three months for four years (unless the disease recurs). The results of the blood tests will not be given to the participants because an accurate protein pattern for ovarian cancer has yet to be determined.

Researchers nationwide hope to enroll 400 women in this study. As part of this study, physicians will monitor all women for recurrent disease in the same way as those who are not on this study. No anti-cancer treatment will be offered unless a cancer has recurred (as determined by current tests including a CT scan, CA-125 blood test or physical exam).

Fox Chase is the only institution in the tri-state area participating in the NCI sponsored study. To find out more about this study, please call 215-728-3672.

Epithelial ovarian cancer is diagnosed in approximately 22,200 women each year. In 2005, it is estimated that 16,210 women will die of the disease, making it the fifth most common cancer in women in the United States. Currently, there is no standard screening available for the disease. When ovarian cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the survival rate approaches 90 percent. However, the vast majority of ovarian cancers are not identified until late stages, when the survival rate drops to only 30 to 40 percent.

More information about proteomics can be found at:

Fox Chase's Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Ovarian Cancer is funding the study. Fox Chase is one of a select few institutions in the U.S. to receive an ovarian cancer SPORE grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI created SPORE grants to support innovative, multidisciplinary research approaches that potentially may have an immediate impact on improving cancer care and prevention.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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