Genetics and ovarian carcinoma

H. T. Lynch, M. J. Casey, J. Lynch, T. E.K. White, A. K. Godwin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Ovarian cancer is a disease that will affect approximately 1% of American women during their lifetime, and contributes to more than 14,000 deaths annually. If not detected early, this disease has a 5-year survival rate of less than 20%. Ovarian cancer develops predominantly from the malignant transformation of a single cell type, the surface epithelium. Although the biological mechanisms of transformation remain unclear, it is probably a multistep process requiring an accumulation of genetic lesions in a number of different gene classes. Several proto-oncogenes, such as AKT2 and Ki-RAS, are activated during ovarian cancer development, with putative oncogene-containing chromosomal regions showing imbalances and DNA amplifications. A number of chromosomal regions are also lost in ovarian tumors, indicating that the inactivation of tumor suppressor genes, such as TP53, may also contribute to cancer development. An important recent advancement in the field of ovarian cancer research is the identification of the breast/ovarian cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2. Mutations in these two tumor suppressor genes are responsible for the majority of heritable forms of epithelial ovarian cancers. A second class of genes involved in DNA mismatch repair (MMR) are responsible for most cases of hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). HNPCC or Lynch II cancer syndrome patients are also at an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer. Individuals in cancer-prone kindreds are currently being screened for germline mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, and several MMR genes (eg, MSH2, MLH1), and mutant allele carriers counseled for cancer risks. Issues related to counseling and management of women at high risk for developing ovarian cancer are discussed. Although BRCA1, BRCA2, and a number of MMR genes have been identified, many more genes involved in gynecologic malignancies remain to be discovered and the clinical significance of the cancer genes already known is still in its infancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-280
Number of pages16
JournalSeminars in Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 25 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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