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Detection of glycoprotein could indentify ovarian and uterine cancers with poor prognosis

Lancet

The detection of a specific protein molecule could help oncologists identify uterine and ovarian cancers with poor prognosis and thereby enable better disease management of women with aggressive uterine or ovarian cancer, suggest authors of a study in this week's issue of THE LANCET.

Ovarian and uterine cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer-related deaths for women with gynaecological malignant disease. The prognosis for women with uterine cancer is usually better than for women with ovarian cancer; however some women will develop aggressive tumours in either disease which increases the risk of death.

Peter Altevogt from the German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, Germany, and colleagues investigated whether a protein molecule (L1 glycoprotein) known to be involved in the spreading of malignant tumours was associated with the development of aggressive tumours for uterine and ovarian cancer.

The investigators used immunological and genetic assessments to identify L1 in uterine and ovarian cancers. L1 was found in 46 of 58 ovarian cancers and in 20 of 72 uterine cancers. L1 detection was a bad prognostic factor for patient survival. Patients with L1-positive uterine tumours were at high risk for progression even in the endometrioid-type tumours, which usually have a favourable prognosis.

Peter Altevogt comments: "Collectively, our results suggest that over-expression of L1 constitutes a new biomarker for ovarian and uterine carcinomas associated with poor clinical outcome...Well-designed prospective studies are needed to validate use of L1 expression in the classification and treatment of patients with ovarian and uterine carcinomas. L1-based diagnosis and prognosis could make an important contribution towards a better management and treatment of this disease."

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Contact: Dr. Peter Altevogt, German Cancer Research Centre, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, D-9120 Heidelberg, Germany T):49-6221-423714; F):49-6221-423702; E): p.altevogt@dkfz-heidelberg.de.

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