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Obesity makes ovarian cancer deadlier

2023 Jul 29, 18:58, Washington DC [US]
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 Most ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease. Fewer than one-third of individuals diagnosed survive five years. According to a recent study, it was the third most prevalent kind of gynaecological cancer in 2020 alone, accounting for about 200,000 recorded fatalities worldwide.

Obesity is a major characteristic that can make ovarian cancer extremely fatal, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research by the University of Notre Dame researchers in partnership with NeoGenomics Laboratories.

Obesity, considered a non-infectious pandemic, has been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer and a worse chance of survival.

A team of researchers led by M. Sharon Stack, the Ann F. Dunne and Elizabeth Riley Director of Notre Dame's Harper Cancer Research Institute, and Anna Juncker-Jensen, senior scientist and director of scientific affairs at NeoGenomics, wanted to know why obesity increases the risk of ovarian cancer.

Cancer tumour samples from ovarian cancer patients were examined by the researchers. They were able to compare the tissues of individuals with a high BMI to those with a low BMI, and two significant changes emerged.

In cancer patients with a BMI higher than 30 (the range for obesity determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the researchers found a particular pattern in the type of immune cells surrounding cancerous tumours. They found a change in the populations of a type of immune cells, called macrophages, infiltrating the tumour that is typically associated with more advanced cancer stages and poor survival.

The cancerous tumours in obese patients were also surrounded by more stiff, fibrous tissue known to help tumours resist treatment by chemotherapy. The team was also able to confirm their findings by observing similar patterns in ovarian cancer-bearing mice fed a high-fat diet.

Stack, who also serves as the Kleiderer-Pezold Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Science at Notre Dame, emphasized that the study offers hope for better treatments as the prevalence of obesity increases worldwide.

“Our data give a more detailed picture of how and why obesity may affect ovarian tumour progression and therapeutic responses to cancer,” Stack said. “We are hopeful that these findings will lead to new strategies for targeted therapies that can improve outcomes for ovarian cancer patients.” (ANI)


Obesity ovarian cancer health ovary cancer Fat weight therapeutic responses
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