Genetic evidence supports endometriosis as ovarian cancer precursor
August 4, 2006
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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The results of a study provide "convincing" molecular genetic evidence that endometriosis is a precursor to ovarian cancer, UK and US collaborators report in the August 1st issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

Despite consistent histological and epidemiological evidence linking these two diseases, it is still unclear whether endometriosis is a precursor to endometriosis-associated ovarian cancer (EAOC) or whether the there is an indirect link because similar factors predispose to both diseases, Dr. Amanda H. Prowse from the University of Oxford, and colleagues note in their report.

They analyzed 10 EAOCs (4 endometroid and 6 clear cell) with coexisting endometriosis for common molecular genetic changes in the tumor and corresponding endometriosis samples.

The team detected 63 loss of heterozygosity (LOH) events in the carcinoma samples; 22 of these were also found in the corresponding endometriosis samples.

"In each case, the same allele was lost in the endometriosis and cancer samples," they report.

Moreover, statistical analyses suggest that it is "very unlikely that these common genetic alterations have occurred as independent events," the investigators report, "and therefore we have provided evidence that endometriosis can be a clonal precursor to EAOCs."

Dr. Prowse and colleagues say additional studies are needed to determine how molecular markers of progression can be used to identify women with endometriosis who have an increased risk of EAOC.

Endometriosis And Cancer
May 08, 2006
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Although Endometriosis affects one out of seven women throughout the world, not much is known about the disease. It occurs when tissue that is usually found inside the uterus appears in other parts of the body. The cause of endometriosis is unknown, though researchers have several theories.

Endometriosis is often compared to cancer since both are characterized by cell invasion and unstrained growth. Other similarities between the two diseases include the development of new blood vessels and the decrease in the number of cells undergoing apoptosis. Doctors have debated since 1925 and researched the idea that endometriosis transforms into cancer without reaching a conclusion.

Recent research has found a possible connection between endometriosis and cancer. It has been found that women suffering from endometriosis are more susceptible to some forms of cancer including ovarian, endocrine, brain and breast cancer. Although doctors agree that this risk exists, further research is still needed since no conclusive proof has been found.

The studies done so far suggested that the cancer risk for women suffering from endometriosis is only slightly higher than average. Also women who had a hysterectomy at or before the time endometriosis was diagnosed did not show increased risk of cancer.

The main difference between endometriosis and cancer, of course, is that endometriosis is not deadly, whereas cancer invariably kills unless treated for life. Endometriosis per se can be very painful, and it can be associated with other conditions, such as problems with the pelvis, but it is not cancer. You can get endometriosis treated with pain management, laparoscopic surgery, and/or hormone treatments.

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