Duke University Medical Center

By Aungst, Heide | Medical Economics, February 20, 2009 | Go to article overview

Duke University Medical Center


Aungst, Heide, Medical Economics


DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA

In about 10 percent of ovarian cancer cases, the cause is clear: The woman carries a BRCAl or BRCA2 mutation.

But researchers at Duke University Medical Center suspect there's a more common cause of ovarian cancer. That's why they're looking deeper into the genome to find other possible causes.

This line of research- along with providing patients with leading-edge diagnostic tools and treatments, including robotic and laparoscopic surgery- is among the reasons why Duke Medical Center's Division of Gynecologic Oncology is a Clinical Center of Excellence.

In 1999, the Division of Gynecologic Oncology initiated the ongoing North Carolina Ovarian Cancer Study. Since its beginning, more than 1,200 women have enrolled, and their DNA and ovarian cancer risk factor profiles are being compared to controls without the disease. "We're looking for polymorphisms that are more common in women with ovarian cancer than in women who don't have ovarian cancer," says Andrew Berchuck, MD, director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology.

The ultimate goal, Berchuck says, is to identify women with a genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer. Additional screenings or prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy might be recommended for this group of women.

"At Duke, we have a very active molecular research program where we're trying to push the envelope, as we work toward better screening, prevention, and treatment," Berchuck says.

The division has translated research from the bench to the bedside in creating a DNA microarray, developed along with colleagues in Duke's Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, to analyze tumor DNA. …

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