Study reveals genomic similarities between breast cancer and ovarian cancers

Sept. 27, 2012

According to new research, one subtype of breast cancer shares many genetic features with high-grade serous ovarian cancer. The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and published online in the journal Nature, suggests the two cancers are of similar molecular origin. This may facilitate comparison of therapeutic data for subtypes of breast and ovarian cancers. Using data generated as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), researchers described new insights into the four standard molecular subtypes based on a comprehensive characterization of samples from 825 patients.

Analyses of genomic data have confirmed that there are four primary subtypes of breast cancer, each with its own biology and survival outlooks. These TCGA findings are based on a large number of breast cancer specimens that capture a complete view of the genomic alterations. The four groups are called intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer: HER2-enriched (HER2E), Luminal A (LumA), Luminal B (LumB), and Basal-like.

The TCGA Research Network uncovered marked genomic similarities between the Basal-like subtype and serous ovarian cancer. The mutation spectrum, or types and frequencies of genomic mutations, were largely the same in both cancer types. Further analyses identified several additional common genomic features, including gene mutation frequency. Computational analyses show that Basal-like breast cancer and serous ovarian cancer might both be susceptible to agents that inhibit blood vessel growth, cutting off the blood supply to the tumor, and to compounds that target DNA repair.

Read the study.