Personalizing therapy for ovarian cancer

Author(s): Chau Tran, Thomas McNally and Michael J Birrer

The treatment of ovarian cancer is uniform for almost all patients, with advanced stage (IC–IV) generally treated with surgical debulking followed by adjuvant chemotherapy consisting of carboplatin alone or in combination with paclitaxel. However, current trends in cancer treatment have demonstrated the benefit of personalized therapies, which take advantage of differences in tumor cell types and genetics. The advantage of the personalization of treatment has already been demonstrated in other cancer types through the identification of patient subpopulations and the creation of genetic tumor profiles. It is increasingly likely that such an approach could prove helpful for ovarian cancer patients. Research regarding the heterogeneity of ovarian tumors with respect to both grade and histology, including the unique classification of clear-cell and low-grade tumors, has helped to further the concept that different tumors require individualized attention. Furthermore, advances in the understanding of the genetic basis for ovarian cancer have provided new insight into cancer-related mutations, including those found in the BRAF, KRAS, PIK3CA and BRCA genes, and provide targets for tumor-specific treatment regimens. The aim of this therapeutic approach is to minimize toxicities and optimize the chance of response and survival.