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1.  Advanced stage micropapillary serous borderline ovarian tumor in a postmenopausal woman: a case report 
Serous borderline ovarian tumors (SBOT) generally occur in young women, present at early stages and are associated with an excellent prognosis. However, there are rare subtypes of SBOT which may exhibit a more aggressive course. In contrast with other types of SBOT, the micropapillary variant SBOT (SBOT-MP) tends to present at advanced stages. Herein, we present a rare case of a SBOT-MP that occurred in a 66-year-old woman, who had tumoral involvement on bilateral ovaries, sigmoid serosa and a positive peritoneal cytology. The currently recommended treatment options for these cases are also discussed.
PMCID: PMC3939243  PMID: 24592040
Borderline ovarian tumor; peritoneal implant; micropapillary; advanced stage; postmenopause
2.  TGF-Beta Induces Serous Borderline Ovarian Tumor Cell Invasion by Activating EMT but Triggers Apoptosis in Low-Grade Serous Ovarian Carcinoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42436.
Apoptosis in ovarian surface epithelial (OSE) cells is induced by transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β). However, high-grade serous ovarian carcinomas (HGC) are refractory to the inhibitory functions of TGF-β; their invasiveness is up-regulated by TGF-β through epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) activation. Serous borderline ovarian tumors (SBOT) have been recognized as distinct entities that give rise to invasive low-grade serous carcinomas (LGC), which have a relatively poor prognosis and are unrelated to HGC. While it is not fully understood how TGF-β plays disparate roles in OSE cells and its malignant derivative HGC, its role in SBOT and LGC remains unknown. Here we demonstrate the effects of TGF-β on cultured SBOT3.1 and LGC-derived MPSC1 cells, which express TGF-β type I and type II receptors. TGF-β treatment induced the invasiveness of SBOT3.1 cells but reduced the invasiveness of MPSC1 cells. The analysis of apoptosis, which was assessed by cleaved caspase-3 and trypan blue exclusion assay, revealed TGF-β-induced apoptosis in MPSC1, but not SBOT3.1 cells. The pro-apoptotic effect of TGF-β on LGC cells was confirmed in another immortalized LGC cell line ILGC. TGF-β treatment led to the activation of Smad3 but not Smad2. The specific TβRI inhibitor SB431542 and TβRI siRNA abolished the SBOT3.1 invasion induced by TGF-β, and it prevented TGF-β-induced apoptosis in MPSC1 cells. In SBOT3.1 cells, TGF-β down-regulated E-cadherin and concurrently up-regulated N-cadherin. TGF-β up-regulated the expression of the transcriptional repressors of E-cadherin, Snail, Slug, Twist and ZEB1. In contrast, co-treatment with SB431542 and TβRI depletion by siRNA abolished the effects of TGF-β on the relative cadherin expression levels and that of Snail, Slug, Twist and ZEB1 as well. This study demonstrates dual TGF-β functions: the induction of SBOT cell invasion by EMT activation and apoptosis promotion in LGC cells.
PMCID: PMC3419689  PMID: 22905131
3.  EGF-Induced EMT and Invasiveness in Serous Borderline Ovarian Tumor Cells: A Possible Step in the Transition to Low-Grade Serous Carcinoma Cells? 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34071.
In high-grade ovarian cancer cultures, it has been shown that epidermal growth factor (EGF) induces cell invasion by activating an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). However, the effect of EGF on serous borderline ovarian tumors (SBOT) and low-grade serous carcinomas (LGC) cell invasion remains unknown. Here, we show that EGF receptor (EGFR) was expressed, that EGF treatment increased cell migration and invasion in two cultured SBOT cell lines, SBOT3.1 and SV40 large T antigen-infected SBOT cells (SBOT4-LT), and in two cultured LGC cell lines, MPSC1 and SV40 LT/ST-immortalized LGC cells (ILGC). However, EGF induced down-regulation of E-cadherin and concurrent up-regulation of N-cadherin in SBOT cells but not in LGC cells. In SBOT cells, the expression of the transcriptional repressors of E-cadherin, Snail, Slug and ZEB1 were increased by EGF treatment. Treatment with EGF led to the activation of the downstream ERK1/2 and PI3K/Akt. The MEK1 inhibitor PD98059 diminished the EGF-induced cadherin switch and the up-regulation of Snail, Slug and ZEB1 and the EGF-mediated increase in SBOT cell migration and invasion. The PI3K inhibitor LY294002 had similar effects, but it could not block the EGF-induced up-regulation of N-cadherin and ZEB1. This study demonstrates that EGF induces SBOT cell migration and invasion by activating EMT, which involves the activation of the ERK1/2 and PI3K/Akt pathways and, subsequently, Snail, Slug and ZEB1 expression. Moreover, our results suggest that there are EMT-independent mechanisms that mediate the EGF-induced LGC cell migration and invasion.
PMCID: PMC3316602  PMID: 22479527
4.  The Anterior Gradient Homolog 3 (AGR3) Gene Is Associated with Differentiation and Survival in Ovarian Cancer 
Low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma is believed to arise from serous borderline ovarian tumors, yet the progression from serous borderline tumors to low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma remains poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to identify differentially expressed genes between the two groups. Expression profiles were generated from 6 human ovarian surface epithelia (HOSE), 8 serous borderline ovarian tumors (SBOT), 13 low-grade serous ovarian carcinomas (LG), and 24 high-grade serous ovarian carcinomas (HG). The anterior gradient homolog 3 (AGR3) gene was found to be highly upregulated in serous borderline ovarian tumors; this finding was validated by real-time quantitative RT-PCR, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. Anti-AGR3 immunohistochemistry was performed on an additional 56 LG and 103 HG tissues and the results were correlated with clinical data. Expression profiling determined that 1254 genes were differentially expressed (P < 0.005) between SBOT, LG and HG tumors. Serous borderline ovarian tumors exhibited robust positive staining for AGR3, with a lower percentage of tumor cells stained in LG and HG. Immunofluorescence staining indicated that AGR3 expression was limited to ciliated cells. Tumor samples with a high percentage (>10%) of AGR3 positively stained tumor cells were associated with improved longer median survival in both the LG (P = 0.013) and HG (P = 0.008) serous ovarian carcinoma groups. The progression of serous borderline ovarian tumors to low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma may involve the de-differentiation of ciliated cells. AGR3 could serve as a prognostic marker for survival in patients with low-grade and high-grade serous ovarian carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC3095702  PMID: 21451362
AGR3; BCMP11; ovarian cancer; biomarker; cilia
5.  Short burst oxygen therapy after activities of daily living in the home in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Thorax  2007;62(8):702-705.
Short burst oxygen therapy (SBOT) is widely prescribed in the UK with little evidence of benefit. A study was performed to examine whether SBOT benefits patients when undertaking normal activities at home among those who already use it.
Twenty‐two patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were included in the study. All regularly used SBOT at home and claimed that it helps them. Each patient chose two daily living activities for which they used SBOT for relief of breathlessness. Patients were then randomised to use either an air or oxygen gas cylinder. At least 15 min later the same activity was performed using the other gas cylinder. The same process was then repeated for the second chosen activity. The main endpoints were subjective and objective times to recovery, analysed for each activity separately or taking the average over the two activities. A paired statistical analysis was performed.
All patients used SBOT with nasal prongs after exercise. Using the average recovery time over two activities for each patient, the mean objective recovery time was 38 s lower (95% CI −81 to +5) using oxygen and the mean subjective recovery time was 34 s lower (95% CI −69 to +2). Five patients were correctly able to distinguish oxygen from air after both activities and there was a suggestion that their recovery times were shorter than those who did not correctly identify the gases (91 s vs 20 s using objective recovery times, and 80 s vs 22 s using subjective recovery times), although this was a subgroup analysis based on only five patients with non‐significant results.
There is some evidence that SBOT shortens recovery time after activities of daily living in a selected group of patients with COPD, but the effect is small. There appears to be a subgroup of patients who may benefit to a much greater degree.
PMCID: PMC2117261  PMID: 17311844
6.  The insulin-like growth factor 1 pathway is a potential therapeutic target for low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma 
Gynecologic oncology  2011;123(1):13-18.
To validate the overexpression of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and its receptor (IGF-1R) in low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (SOC), and to investigate whether the IGF-1 pathway is a potential therapeutic target for low-grade SOC.
Gene expression profiling was performed on serous borderline ovarian tumors (SBOTs) and low-grade SOC, and overexpression of IGF-1 in low-grade SOC was validated by RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. The effect of exogenous IGF-1 on cell proliferation was determined in cell lines by cell proliferation assays, cell migration assays, and Western blot. Signaling pathways downstream of IGF-1 and the effects of the AKT inhibitor MK-2206 were investigated by Western blot analysis and by generating IGF-1R short hairpin RNA stable knockdown cell lines. Low- and high-grade cell lines were treated with the dual IGF-1R- and insulin receptor-directed tyrosine kinase inhibitor OSI-906, and cellular proliferation was measured.
mRNA analysis and immunostaining revealed significantly higher IGF-1 expression in low-grade SOCs than in SBOTs or high-grade SOCs. In response to exogenous treatment with IGF-1, low-grade cell lines exhibited more intense upregulation of phosphorylated AKT than did high-grade cell lines, an effect that was diminished with IGF-1R knockdown and MK-2206 treatment. Low-grade SOC cell lines were more sensitive to growth inhibition with OSI-906 than were high-grade cell lines.
IGF-1 is overexpressed in low-grade SOCs compared with SBOTs and high-grade SOCs. Additionally, low-grade SOC cell lines were more responsive to IGF-1 stimulation and IGF-1R inhibition than were high-grade lines. The IGF-1 pathway is therefore a potential therapeutic target in low-grade SOC.
PMCID: PMC3171566  PMID: 21726895
Ovarian cancer; Insulin-like growth factor; Insulin receptor
7.  ZNF385B and VEGFA Are Strongly Differentially Expressed in Serous Ovarian Carcinomas and Correlate with Survival 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46317.
The oncogenesis of ovarian cancer is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to identify mRNAs differentially expressed between moderately and poorly differentiated (MD/PD) serous ovarian carcinomas (SC), serous ovarian borderline tumours (SBOT) and superficial scrapings from normal ovaries (SNO), and to correlate these mRNAs with clinical parameters including survival.
Differences in mRNA expression between MD/PD SC, SBOT and SNO were analyzed by global gene expression profiling (n = 23), validated by RT-qPCR (n = 41) and correlated with clinical parameters.
Thirty mRNAs differentially expressed between MD/PD SC, SBOT and SNO were selected from the global gene expression analyses, and 21 were verified (p<0.01) by RT-qPCR. Of these, 13 mRNAs were differentially expressed in MD/PD SC compared with SNO (p<0.01) and were correlated with clinical parameters. ZNF385B was downregulated (FC = −130.5, p = 1.2×10−7) and correlated with overall survival (p = 0.03). VEGFA was upregulated (FC = 6.1, p = 6.0×10−6) and correlated with progression-free survival (p = 0.037). Increased levels of TPX2 and FOXM1 mRNAs (FC = 28.5, p = 2.7×10−10 and FC = 46.2, p = 5.6×10−4, respectively) correlated with normalization of CA125 (p = 0.03 and p = 0.044, respectively). Furthermore, we present a molecular pathway for MD/PD SC, including VEGFA, FOXM1, TPX2, BIRC5 and TOP2A, all significantly upregulated and directly interacting with TP53.
We have identified 21 mRNAs differentially expressed (p<0.01) between MD/PD SC, SBOT and SNO. Thirteen were differentially expressed in MD/PD SC, including ZNF385B and VEGFA correlating with survival, and FOXM1 and TPX2 with normalization of CA125. We also present a molecular pathway for MD/PD SC.
PMCID: PMC3460818  PMID: 23029477
8.  Diagnosis, Treatment, and Follow-Up of Borderline Ovarian Tumors 
The Oncologist  2012;17(12):1515-1533.
Borderline ovarian tumors remain a controversial issue. This review informs readers about the recent data concerning this topic.
Learning Objectives
After completing this course, the reader will be able to: Compare the epidemiologic and reproductive risk factors in BOTs with those in ovarian cancers and describe the molecular background of development of BOTs.Use the pathological terminology with either original grouping of borderline category or new subclassification of BOTs and assess the major predictor of recurrence and survival.Determine an appropriate diagnostic algorithm for patients with symptoms suggesting malignant ovarian tumors that will identify borderline ovarian tumors when present.
This article is available for continuing medical education credit at
Borderline ovarian tumors represent a heterogeneous group of noninvasive tumors of uncertain malignant potential with characteristic histology. They occur in younger women, are present at an early stage, and have a favorable prognosis, but symptomatic recurrence and death may be found as long as 20 years after therapy in some patients. The molecular changes in borderline ovarian tumors indicate linkage of this disease to type I ovarian tumors (low-grade ovarian carcinomas). The pathological stage of disease and subclassification of extraovarian disease into invasive and noninvasive implants, together with the presence of postoperative macroscopic residual disease, appear to be the major predictor of recurrence and survival. However, it should be emphasized that the most important negative prognostic factor for recurrence is just the use of conservative surgery, but without any impact on patient survival because most recurrent diseases are of the borderline type—easily curable and with an excellent prognosis. Borderline tumors are difficult masses to correctly preoperatively diagnose using imaging methods because their macroscopic features may overlap with invasive and benign ovarian tumors. Over the past several decades, surgical therapy has shifted from a radical approach to more conservative treatment; however, oncologic safety must always be balanced. Follow-up is essential using routine ultrasound imaging, with special attention paid to the remaining ovary in conservatively treated patients. Current literature on this topic leads to a number of controversies that will be discussed thoroughly in this article, with the aim to provide recommendations for the clinical management of these patients.
PMCID: PMC3528384  PMID: 23024155
Borderline ovarian tumor; Prognostic parameter; Ultrasound; Fertility; Conservative surgery; Recurrence
9.  Survival-Related Profile, Pathways, and Transcription Factors in Ovarian Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(2):e1000024.
Ovarian cancer has a poor prognosis due to advanced stage at presentation and either intrinsic or acquired resistance to classic cytotoxic drugs such as platinum and taxoids. Recent large clinical trials with different combinations and sequences of classic cytotoxic drugs indicate that further significant improvement in prognosis by this type of drugs is not to be expected. Currently a large number of drugs, targeting dysregulated molecular pathways in cancer cells have been developed and are introduced in the clinic. A major challenge is to identify those patients who will benefit from drugs targeting these specific dysregulated pathways.The aims of our study were (1) to develop a gene expression profile associated with overall survival in advanced stage serous ovarian cancer, (2) to assess the association of pathways and transcription factors with overall survival, and (3) to validate our identified profile and pathways/transcription factors in an independent set of ovarian cancers.
Methods and Findings
According to a randomized design, profiling of 157 advanced stage serous ovarian cancers was performed in duplicate using ∼35,000 70-mer oligonucleotide microarrays. A continuous predictor of overall survival was built taking into account well-known issues in microarray analysis, such as multiple testing and overfitting. A functional class scoring analysis was utilized to assess pathways/transcription factors for their association with overall survival. The prognostic value of genes that constitute our overall survival profile was validated on a fully independent, publicly available dataset of 118 well-defined primary serous ovarian cancers. Furthermore, functional class scoring analysis was also performed on this independent dataset to assess the similarities with results from our own dataset. An 86-gene overall survival profile discriminated between patients with unfavorable and favorable prognosis (median survival, 19 versus 41 mo, respectively; permutation p-value of log-rank statistic = 0.015) and maintained its independent prognostic value in multivariate analysis. Genes that composed the overall survival profile were also able to discriminate between the two risk groups in the independent dataset. In our dataset 17/167 pathways and 13/111 transcription factors were associated with overall survival, of which 16 and 12, respectively, were confirmed in the independent dataset.
Our study provides new clues to genes, pathways, and transcription factors that contribute to the clinical outcome of serous ovarian cancer and might be exploited in designing new treatment strategies.
Ate van der Zee and colleagues analyze the gene expression profiles of ovarian cancer samples from 157 patients, and identify an 86-gene expression profile that seems to predict overall survival.
Editors' Summary
Ovarian cancer kills more than 100,000 women every year and is one of the most frequent causes of cancer death in women in Western countries. Most ovarian cancers develop when an epithelial cell in one of the ovaries (two small organs in the pelvis that produce eggs) acquires genetic changes that allow it to grow uncontrollably and to spread around the body (metastasize). In its early stages, ovarian cancer is confined to the ovaries and can often be treated successfully by surgery alone. Unfortunately, early ovarian cancer rarely has symptoms so a third of women with ovarian cancer have advanced disease when they first visit their doctor with symptoms that include vague abdominal pains and mild digestive disturbances. That is, cancer cells have spread into their abdominal cavity and metastasized to other parts of the body (so-called stage III and IV disease). The outlook for women diagnosed with stage III and IV disease, which are treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, is very poor. Only 30% of women with stage III, and 5% with stage IV, are still alive five years after their cancer is diagnosed.
Why Was This Study Done?
If the cellular pathways that determine the biological behavior of ovarian cancer could be identified, it might be possible to develop more effective treatments for women with stage III and IV disease. One way to identify these pathways is to use gene expression profiling (a technique that catalogs all the genes expressed by a cell) to compare gene expression patterns in the ovarian cancers of women who survive for different lengths of time. Genes with different expression levels in tumors with different outcomes could be targets for new treatments. For example, it might be worth developing inhibitors of proteins whose expression is greatest in tumors with short survival times. In this study, the researchers develop an expression profile that is associated with overall survival in advanced-stage serous ovarian cancer (more than half of ovarian cancers originate in serous cells, epithelial cells that secrete a watery fluid). The researchers also assess the association of various cellular pathways and transcription factors (proteins that control the expression of other proteins) with survival in this type of ovarian carcinoma.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the gene expression profiles of tumor samples taken from 157 patients with advanced stage serous ovarian cancer and used the “supervised principal components” method to build a predictor of overall survival from these profiles and patient survival times. This 86-gene predictor discriminated between patients with favorable and unfavorable outcomes (average survival times of 41 and 19 months, respectively). It also discriminated between groups of patients with these two outcomes in an independent dataset collected from 118 additional serous ovarian cancers. Next, the researchers used “functional class scoring” analysis to assess the association between pathway and transcription factor expression in the tumor samples and overall survival. Seventeen of 167 KEGG pathways (“wiring” diagrams of molecular interactions, reactions and relations involved in cellular processes and human diseases listed in the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) were associated with survival, 16 of which were confirmed in the independent dataset. Finally, 13 of 111 analyzed transcription factors were associated with overall survival in the tumor samples, 12 of which were confirmed in the independent dataset.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify an 86-gene overall survival gene expression profile that seems to predict overall survival for women with advanced serous ovarian cancer. However, before this profile can be used clinically, further validation of the profile and more robust methods for determining gene expression profiles are needed. Importantly, these findings also provide new clues about the genes, pathways and transcription factors that contribute to the clinical outcome of serous ovarian cancer, clues that can now be exploited in the search for new treatment strategies. Finally, these findings suggest that it might eventually be possible to tailor therapies to the needs of individual patients by analyzing which pathways are activated in their tumors and thus improve survival times for women with advanced ovarian cancer.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Simon Gayther and Kate Lawrenson
See also a related PLoS Medicine Research Article by Huntsman and colleagues
The US National Cancer Institute provides a brief description of what cancer is and how it develops, and information on all aspects of ovarian cancer for patients and professionals (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity Cancerbackup provides general information about cancer, and more specific information about ovarian cancer
MedlinePlus also provides links to other information about ovarian cancer (in English and Spanish)
The KEGG Pathway database provides pathway maps of known molecular networks involved in a wide range of cellular processes
PMCID: PMC2634794  PMID: 19192944
10.  Ovarian Carcinoma Subtypes Are Different Diseases: Implications for Biomarker Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e232.
Although it has long been appreciated that ovarian carcinoma subtypes (serous, clear cell, endometrioid, and mucinous) are associated with different natural histories, most ovarian carcinoma biomarker studies and current treatment protocols for women with this disease are not subtype specific. With the emergence of high-throughput molecular techniques, distinct pathogenetic pathways have been identified in these subtypes. We examined variation in biomarker expression rates between subtypes, and how this influences correlations between biomarker expression and stage at diagnosis or prognosis.
Methods and Findings
In this retrospective study we assessed the protein expression of 21 candidate tissue-based biomarkers (CA125, CRABP-II, EpCam, ER, F-Spondin, HE4, IGF2, K-Cadherin, Ki-67, KISS1, Matriptase, Mesothelin, MIF, MMP7, p21, p53, PAX8, PR, SLPI, TROP2, WT1) in a population-based cohort of 500 ovarian carcinomas that was collected over the period from 1984 to 2000. The expression of 20 of the 21 biomarkers differs significantly between subtypes, but does not vary across stage within each subtype. Survival analyses show that nine of the 21 biomarkers are prognostic indicators in the entire cohort but when analyzed by subtype only three remain prognostic indicators in the high-grade serous and none in the clear cell subtype. For example, tumor proliferation, as assessed by Ki-67 staining, varies markedly between different subtypes and is an unfavourable prognostic marker in the entire cohort (risk ratio [RR] 1.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2%–2.4%) but is not of prognostic significance within any subtype. Prognostic associations can even show an inverse correlation within the entire cohort, when compared to a specific subtype. For example, WT1 is more frequently expressed in high-grade serous carcinomas, an aggressive subtype, and is an unfavourable prognostic marker within the entire cohort of ovarian carcinomas (RR 1.7, 95% CI 1.2%–2.3%), but is a favourable prognostic marker within the high-grade serous subtype (RR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3%–0.8%).
The association of biomarker expression with survival varies substantially between subtypes, and can easily be overlooked in whole cohort analyses. To avoid this effect, each subtype within a cohort should be analyzed discretely. Ovarian carcinoma subtypes are different diseases, and these differences should be reflected in clinical research study design and ultimately in the management of ovarian carcinoma.
David Huntsman and colleagues describe the associations between biomarker expression patterns and survival in different ovarian cancer subtypes. They suggest that the management of ovarian cancer should reflect differences between these subtypes.
Editors' Summary
Every year, about 200,000 women develop ovarian cancer and more than 100,000 die from the disease. Ovarian epithelial cancer (carcinoma) occurs when epithelial cells from the ovary or fallopian tube acquire mutations or equivalent changes that allow them to grow uncontrollably within one of the ovaries (two small organs in the pelvis that produce eggs) and acquire the potential to spread around the body (metastasize). While the cancer is confined to the ovaries, cancer specialists call this stage I disease; 70%–80% of women diagnosed with stage I ovarian cancer survive for at least 5 y. However, only a fifth of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at this stage; in the majority of patients the cancer has spread into the pelvis (stage II disease), into the peritoneal cavity (the space around the gut, stomach, and liver; stage III disease), or metastasized to distant organs such as brain (stage IV disease). This peritoneal spread might be associated with often only vague abdominal pain and mild digestive disturbances. Patients with advanced-stage ovarian carcinoma are treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy but, despite recent advances in treatment, only 15% of women diagnosed with stage IV disease survive for 5 y.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although it is usually regarded as a single disease, there are actually several distinct subtypes of ovarian carcinoma. These are classified according to their microscopic appearance as high-grade serous, low-grade serous, clear cell, endometrioid, and mucinous ovarian carcinomas. These subtypes develop differently and respond differently to chemotherapy. Yet scientists studying ovarian carcinoma usually regard this cancer as a single entity, and current treatment protocols for the disease are not subtype specific. Might better progress be made toward understanding ovarian carcinoma and toward improving its treatment if each subtype were treated as a separate disease? Why are some tumors confined to the ovary, whereas the majority spread beyond the ovary at time of diagnosis? In this study, the researchers address these questions by asking whether correlations between the expression of “biomarkers” (molecules made by cancer cells that can be used to detect tumors and to monitor treatment effectiveness) and the stage at diagnosis or length of survival can be explained by differential biomarker expression between different subtypes of ovarian carcinoma. They also address the question of whether early stage and late stage ovarian carcinomas are fundamentally different.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured the expression of 21 candidate protein biomarkers in 500 ovarian carcinoma samples collected in British Columbia, Canada, between 1984 and 2000. For 20 of the biomarkers, the fraction of tumors expressing the biomarker varied significantly between ovarian carcinoma subtypes. Considering all the tumors together, ten biomarkers had different expression levels in early and late stage tumors. However, when each subtype was considered separately, the expression of none of the biomarkers varied with stage. When the researchers asked whether the expression of any of the biomarkers correlated with survival times, they found that nine biomarkers were unfavorable indicators of outcome when all the tumors were considered together. That is, women whose tumors expressed any of these biomarkers had a higher risk of dying from ovarian cancer than women whose tumors did not express these biomarkers. However, only three biomarkers were unfavorable indicators for high-grade serous carcinomas considered alone and the expression of a biomarker called WT1 in this subtype of ovarian carcinoma is associated with a lower risk of dying. Similarly, expression of the biomarker Ki-67 was an unfavorable prognostic indicator when all the tumors were considered, but was not a prognostic indicator for any individual subtype.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings indicate that biomarker expression is more strongly associated with ovarian carcinoma subtype than with stage. In other words, biomarker expression is constant from early to late stage, but only within a given subtype. Second, the association of biomarker expression with survival varies between subtypes, hence lumping all subtypes together can yield misleading results. Although these findings need confirming in more tumor samples, they support the view that ovarian carcinoma subtypes are different diseases. In practical terms, therefore, these findings suggest that better ways to detect and treat ovarian cancer are more likely to be found if future biomarker studies and clinical research studies investigate each subtype of ovarian carcinoma separately rather than grouping them all together.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Cancer Institute provides a brief description of what cancer is and how it develops and information on all aspects of ovarian cancer for patients and professionals. It also provides a fact sheet on tumor markers (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity Cancerbackup provides general information about cancer and more specific information about ovarian cancer, including tumor staging
PMCID: PMC2592352  PMID: 19053170
11.  The Preclinical Natural History of Serous Ovarian Cancer: Defining the Target for Early Detection 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(7):e1000114.
Pat Brown and colleagues carry out a modeling study and define what properties a biomarker-based screening test would require in order to be clinically useful.
Ovarian cancer kills approximately 15,000 women in the United States every year, and more than 140,000 women worldwide. Most deaths from ovarian cancer are caused by tumors of the serous histological type, which are rarely diagnosed before the cancer has spread. Rational design of a potentially life-saving early detection and intervention strategy requires understanding the lesions we must detect in order to prevent lethal progression. Little is known about the natural history of lethal serous ovarian cancers before they become clinically apparent. We can learn about this occult period by studying the unsuspected serous cancers that are discovered in a small fraction of apparently healthy women who undergo prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (PBSO).
Methods and Findings
We developed models for the growth, progression, and detection of occult serous cancers on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of published data on serous cancers discovered by PBSO in BRCA1 mutation carriers. Our analysis yielded several critical insights into the early natural history of serous ovarian cancer. First, these cancers spend on average more than 4 y as in situ, stage I, or stage II cancers and approximately 1 y as stage III or IV cancers before they become clinically apparent. Second, for most of the occult period, serous cancers are less than 1 cm in diameter, and not visible on gross examination of the ovaries and Fallopian tubes. Third, the median diameter of a serous ovarian cancer when it progresses to an advanced stage (stage III or IV) is about 3 cm. Fourth, to achieve 50% sensitivity in detecting tumors before they advance to stage III, an annual screen would need to detect tumors of 1.3 cm in diameter; 80% detection sensitivity would require detecting tumors less than 0.4 cm in diameter. Fifth, to achieve a 50% reduction in serous ovarian cancer mortality with an annual screen, a test would need to detect tumors of 0.5 cm in diameter.
Our analysis has formalized essential conditions for successful early detection of serous ovarian cancer. Although the window of opportunity for early detection of these cancers lasts for several years, developing a test sufficiently sensitive and specific to take advantage of that opportunity will be a challenge. We estimated that the tumors we would need to detect to achieve even 50% sensitivity are more than 200 times smaller than the clinically apparent serous cancers typically used to evaluate performance of candidate biomarkers; none of the biomarker assays reported to date comes close to the required level of performance. Overcoming the signal-to-noise problem inherent in detection of tiny tumors will likely require discovery of truly cancer-specific biomarkers or development of novel approaches beyond traditional blood protein biomarkers. While this study was limited to ovarian cancers of serous histological type and to those arising in BRCA1 mutation carriers specifically, we believe that the results are relevant to other hereditary serous cancers and to sporadic ovarian cancers. A similar approach could be applied to other cancers to aid in defining their early natural history and to guide rational design of an early detection strategy.
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Every year about 190,000 women develop ovarian cancer and more than 140,000 die from the disease. Ovarian cancer occurs when a cell on the surface of the ovaries (two small organs in the pelvis that produce eggs) or in the Fallopian tubes (which connect the ovaries to the womb) acquires genetic changes (mutations) that allow it to grow uncontrollably and to spread around the body (metastasize). For women whose cancer is diagnosed when it is confined to the site of origin—ovary or Fallopian tube—(stage I disease), the outlook is good; 70%–80% of these women survive for at least 5 y. However, very few ovarian cancers are diagnosed this early. Usually, by the time the cancer causes symptoms (often only vague abdominal pain and mild digestive disturbances), it has spread into the pelvis (stage II disease), into the space around the gut, stomach, and liver (stage III disease), or to distant organs (stage IV disease). Patients with advanced-stage ovarian cancer are treated with surgery and chemotherapy but, despite recent treatment improvements, only 15% of women diagnosed with stage IV disease survive for 5 y.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most deaths from ovarian cancer are caused by serous ovarian cancer, a tumor subtype that is rarely diagnosed before it has spread. Early detection of serous ovarian cancer would save the lives of many women but no one knows what these cancers look like before they spread or how long they grow before they become clinically apparent. Learning about this occult (hidden) period of ovarian cancer development by observing tumors from their birth to late-stage disease is not feasible. However, some aspects of the early natural history of ovarian cancer can be studied by using data collected from healthy women who have had their ovaries and Fallopian tubes removed (prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy [PBSO]) because they have inherited a mutated version of the BRCA1 gene that increases their ovarian cancer risk. In a few of these women, unsuspected ovarian cancer is discovered during PBSO. In this study, the researchers identify and analyze the available reports on occult serous ovarian cancer found this way and then develop mathematical models describing the early natural history of ovarian cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers first estimated the time period during which the detection of occult tumors might save lives using the data from these reports. Serous ovarian cancers, they estimated, spend more than 4 y as in situ (a very early stage of cancer development), stage I, or stage II cancers and about 1 y as stage III and IV cancers before they become clinically apparent. Next, the researchers used the data to develop mathematical models for the growth, progression, and diagnosis of serous ovarian cancer (the accuracy of which depends on the assumptions used to build the models and on the quality of the data fed into them). These models indicated that, for most of the occult period, serous cancers had a diameter of less than 1 cm (too small to be detected during surgery or by gross examination of the ovaries or Fallopian tubes) and that more than half of serous cancers had advanced to stage III/IV by the time they measured 3 cm across. Furthermore, to enable the detection of half of serous ovarian cancers before they reached stage III, an annual screening test would need to detect cancers with a diameter of 1.3 cm and to halve deaths from serous ovarian cancer, an annual screening test would need to detect 0.5-cm diameter tumors.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the time period over which the early detection of serous ovarian cancer would save lives is surprisingly long. More soberingly, the authors find that a test that is sensitive and specific enough to take advantage of this “window of opportunity” would need to detect tumors hundreds of times smaller than clinically apparent serous cancers. So far no ovarian cancer-specific protein or other biomarker has been identified that could be used to develop a test that comes anywhere near this level of performance. Identification of truly ovarian cancer-specific biomarkers or novel strategies will be needed in order to take advantage of the window of opportunity. The stages prior to clinical presentation of other lethal cancers are still very poorly understood. Similar studies of the early natural history of these cancers could help guide the development of rational early detection strategies.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Cancer Institute provides a brief description of what cancer is and how it develops and information on all aspects of ovarian cancer for patients and professionals. It also provides a fact sheet on BRCA1 mutations and cancer risk (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity Cancerbackup also provides information about all aspects of ovarian cancer
MedlinePlus provides a list of links to additional information about ovarian cancer (in English and Spanish)
The Canary Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to development of effective strategies for early detection of cancers including ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC2711307  PMID: 19636370
12.  Clinical outcome and risk factors for recurrence in borderline ovarian tumours 
British Journal of Cancer  2006;94(11):1586-1591.
We investigated the long-term prognosis of borderline ovarian tumours and determined risk factors for recurrence. One hundred and twenty-one borderline ovarian tumours treated between 1994 and 2003 at the participating institutions in the Tohoku Gynecologic Cancer Unit were retrospectively investigated for clinical stage, histopathological subtype, surgical technique, postoperative chemotherapy, the presence or absence of recurrence, and prognosis. The median follow-up period was 57 months (1–126 months). One hundred and nine cases (90.6%) were at clinical stage I. The histopathological subtypes consisted of 91 cases of mucinous tumour (75.2%), 27 cases of serous tumour (22.3%), and three cases of endometrioid tumour. Conservative surgery was used in 53 cases (43.8%), radical surgery in 68 cases (56.2%), a staging laparotomy in 43 cases (35.5%), and postoperative adjuvant therapy in 30 cases (24.8%). Recurrence was found in eight cases, but no tumour-related deaths were reported. Although no significant difference in disease-free survival rate was seen between different clinical stages, the difference in disease-free survival rate between serous and nonserous (mucinous and endometrioid) types was significant (P<0.05). The 10-year disease-free survival rate was 89.1% for the radical surgery group and 57.4% for the conservative surgery group – this difference was significant (P<0.05). In the conservative surgery group, cystectomy and serous tumour were independent risk factors for recurrence. Although recurrence was observed, the long-term prognosis of borderline ovarian tumour was favourable, without tumour-related deaths. Considering the favourable prognosis, conservative surgery can be chosen as far as the patient has a nonserous tumour and receive adnexectomy. However, in cases of serous type and/or receiving cystectomy special care should be given as relative risk rates of recurrence elevate by 2–4-folds.
PMCID: PMC2361313  PMID: 16685277
borderline ovarian tumour; conservative surgery; cystectomy; serous tumour; multivariate analysis
13.  Prognostic significance of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 alpha(HIF-1alpha) expression in serous ovarian cancer: an immunohistochemical study 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:335.
The hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) has emerged as an attractive target for cancer therapy. The few publications addressing the prognostic significance of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1α (HIF-1α) cellular expression in ovarian cancer produced contradictory findings which are not permissible to widely acceptable conclusions and clinical applications. Our study was designed to investigate this by including a comparatively large number of cases and by using a combination of antibodies to analyze immunohistochemically the expression of HIF-1α.
One hundred (n = 100) neoplastic and 20 benign (controls) pathological samples from paraffin-embedded tissue were included. They were classified after surgery as stage I (n = 23) and stage III G3 (n = 55). Also 22 borderline serous adenocarcinoma patients and 20 benign controls were stained. The mean follow up was 3 years. Only patients with the diagnosis of serous carcinoma of stage III, G3 who received 6 cycles of postoperative TC (175–180 mg/m2 paclitaxel and carboplatin after calculating the area under the concentration curve) with complete medical records (n = 55) were selected for survival analysis. The survival analysis of the samples compared two groups after the patients were dichotomized by HIF-1α final score to positive and negative.
The frequency of the nuclear expression of HIF-1α in benign tumours was significantly lower (median: no expression) than in borderline and ovarian cancer tumours combined (p < 0.001). HIF-1α expression in serous ovarian carcinoma was not stage dependent. The overall survival of patients with tumours that stained strongly for HIF-1α was significantly shorter than that of patients with tumours that stained weakly or were negative for HIF-1α (p = 0.01). Kaplan-Meier survival curves confirmed that HIF-1α "positive" had decreased overall survival compared to HIF-1α "negative" patients (p = 0.003) and this was an independent adverse prognostic factor (multivariable analysis p = 0.006). HIF-1α "positive" patients displayed a shorter median progress free interval (PFI) (not statistically significant p > 0.05). Interestingly the overall PFI of the subgroup of patients that have undergone suboptimal cytoreduction at primary surgery (n = 21) with tumours that stained strongly for HIF-1α was significantly worse than that of patients with tumours that stained weakly or were negative for HIF-1α (p = 0.03).
Our report confirms the prognostic value of HIF-1α when restricted to poorly differentiated serous ovarian carcinoma. In addition it shows that this association is elusive, since it is not only methodology-related but it can be antibody-depended. There is adequate evidence to speculate that targeting HIF-1α could improve the long-term prognosis of these patients In order to increase the overall sensitivity of the immunoassay, maintaining acceptable levels of specificity, a panel of antibodies should be used.
PMCID: PMC2651893  PMID: 19014607
14.  Micropapillary Pattern at the Invasive Front and Its Association with Unresectable Colorectal Carcinomas 
Disease markers  2013;35(5):451-455.
Unresectable colorectal carcinomas (CRCs) as considered incurable even if the primary tumors and the metastatic ones can undergo resection are correlated with poor prognosis. We evaluated the association between micropapillary pattern at the invasive front and unresectable CRCs. Thirty-four out of 264 (12.9%) CRC patients with stages III and IV were unresectable cases. The patients with unresectable CRCs had significantly worse survival than those with resectable CRCs (P < 0.001). Micropapillary pattern was evident in 12 (4.5%) out of 264 cases. This pattern was observed in 6 of 34 (17.6%) unresectable CRCs and in 6 of 230 (2.6%) resectable cases (P = 0.002). Unresectable CRCs revealed more frequently deeper invasion (odds ratio (OR), 1.175; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.113–1.241), lymph node metastasis (OR, 2.356; 95% CI, 1.132–4.905), and presence of micropapillary pattern at the invasive front (OR, 8.000; 95% CI, 2.415–26.504) as compared to resectable cases. By multivariable logistic regression analysis, only micropapillary pattern was shown to be an independent predictor of unresectable CRCs (OR, 9.451; 95% CI, 2.468–36.196; P < 0.001). In conclusion, micropapillary pattern at the invasive front is associated with unresectable CRCs, and detection of it could help identify unresectable CRC cases.
PMCID: PMC3830847  PMID: 24288425
15.  Correlation of histological components with tumor invasion in pulmonary adenocarcinoma 
Pulmonary adenocarcinoma (PA) is the most common histologic type of primary lung cancer. Generally, adenocarcinoma was composed by five major components. The present study aimed to evaluate changes in the composition of adenocarcinoma components as the tumor grows; in addition, to analyze the correlation between the occupancy rates of histologic components of the tumor in regard to prognosis.
Pathologic data were retrospectively evaluated for 206 patients who underwent curative resection of PA. We investigated how histologic component occupancy rates changed as tumor size and N stage increased. To evaluate local invasiveness, the major components of the present group and absent group of pleural invasion, lymphatic invasion, and vascular invasion were compared.
The mean percentages of acinar and solid components significantly increased with an increase in size (P = 0.006, P < 0.001) ; however, the percentage of lepidic components decreased (P < 0.001). In cases with a solid component and a micropapillary component, a gradual increase was found with an increase N stage (P = 0.001, P < 0.001); however the percentage of lepidic components decreased (P < 0.001). Average differences of histologic components dependent upon whether pleural, lympathic and vascular invasion were present, the difference of micropapillary and lepidic components were statistically significant. With logistic regression analysis, as the occupancy rate of the lepidic component increased, the probability of pleural invasion, lymphatic invasion, and vascular invasion decreased; in cases with a micropapillary component, as the occupancy rate of increased, the probability of lymphatic invasion and vascular invasion increased. In multivariate analysis using the Cox propotional hazards model, the occupancy rates of acinar(p = 0.043; odds ratio = 1.023), micropapillary(p = 0.002; odds ratio = 1.051) and lepidic (p = 0.005; odds ratio = 0.966) components were significantly associated with recurrence.
The lower the occupancy rate of a lepidic component and the higher the occupancy rates of acinar, solid, and micropapillary components, the likelihood of tumor progression increased. In addition, as the occupancy rate of a lepidic component decreased and a micropapillary component increased, local invasiveness and recurrence rate increased; thus, increasing the probability of a poor prognosis.
PMCID: PMC4301793  PMID: 25519483
Adenocarcinoma component; Lung cancer; Acinar; Papillary; Micropapillary; Solid; Lepidic
16.  Nuclear Receptor Expression Defines a Set of Prognostic Biomarkers for Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000378.
David Mangelsdorf and colleagues show that nuclear receptor expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes of lung cancer patients, and this expression profile is a potential prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for individuals with early stage disease.
The identification of prognostic tumor biomarkers that also would have potential as therapeutic targets, particularly in patients with early stage disease, has been a long sought-after goal in the management and treatment of lung cancer. The nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily, which is composed of 48 transcription factors that govern complex physiologic and pathophysiologic processes, could represent a unique subset of these biomarkers. In fact, many members of this family are the targets of already identified selective receptor modulators, providing a direct link between individual tumor NR quantitation and selection of therapy. The goal of this study, which begins this overall strategy, was to investigate the association between mRNA expression of the NR superfamily and the clinical outcome for patients with lung cancer, and to test whether a tumor NR gene signature provided useful information (over available clinical data) for patients with lung cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using quantitative real-time PCR to study NR expression in 30 microdissected non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and their pair-matched normal lung epithelium, we found great variability in NR expression among patients' tumor and non-involved lung epithelium, found a strong association between NR expression and clinical outcome, and identified an NR gene signature from both normal and tumor tissues that predicted patient survival time and disease recurrence. The NR signature derived from the initial 30 NSCLC samples was validated in two independent microarray datasets derived from 442 and 117 resected lung adenocarcinomas. The NR gene signature was also validated in 130 squamous cell carcinomas. The prognostic signature in tumors could be distilled to expression of two NRs, short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor, as single gene predictors of NSCLC patient survival time, including for patients with stage I disease. Of equal interest, the studies of microdissected histologically normal epithelium and matched tumors identified expression in normal (but not tumor) epithelium of NGFIB3 and mineralocorticoid receptor as single gene predictors of good prognosis.
NR expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes for patients with lung cancer, and this expression profile provides a unique prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for those with early stage disease. This study highlights the potential use of NRs as a rational set of therapeutically tractable genes as theragnostic biomarkers, and specifically identifies short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor in tumors, and NGFIB3 and MR in non-neoplastic lung epithelium, for future detailed translational study in lung cancer.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer-related death, kills 1.3 million people annually. Most lung cancers are “non-small-cell lung cancers” (NSCLCs), and most are caused by smoking. Exposure to chemicals in smoke causes changes in the genes of the cells lining the lungs that allow the cells to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. How NSCLC is treated and responds to treatment depends on its “stage.” Stage I tumors, which are small and confined to the lung, are removed surgically, although chemotherapy is also sometimes given. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with surgery and chemotherapy, as are some stage III tumors. However, because cancer cells in stage III tumors can be present throughout the chest, surgery is not always possible. For such cases, and for stage IV NSCLC, where the tumor has spread around the body, patients are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I and II NSCLC but only 2% of patients with stage IV NSCLC survive for five years after diagnosis; more than 50% of patients have stage IV NSCLC at diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Patient responses to treatment vary considerably. Oncologists (doctors who treat cancer) would like to know which patients have a good prognosis (are likely to do well) to help them individualize their treatment. Consequently, the search is on for “prognostic tumor biomarkers,” molecules made by cancer cells that can be used to predict likely clinical outcomes. Such biomarkers, which may also be potential therapeutic targets, can be identified by analyzing the overall pattern of gene expression in a panel of tumors using a technique called microarray analysis and looking for associations between the expression of sets of genes and clinical outcomes. In this study, the researchers take a more directed approach to identifying prognostic biomarkers by investigating the association between the expression of the genes encoding nuclear receptors (NRs) and clinical outcome in patients with lung cancer. The NR superfamily contains 48 transcription factors (proteins that control the expression of other genes) that respond to several hormones and to diet-derived fats. NRs control many biological processes and are targets for several successful drugs, including some used to treat cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the expression of NR mRNAs using “quantitative real-time PCR” in 30 microdissected NSCLCs and in matched normal lung tissue samples (mRNA is the blueprint for protein production). They then used an approach called standard classification and regression tree analysis to build a prognostic model for NSCLC based on the expression data. This model predicted both survival time and disease recurrence among the patients from whom the tumors had been taken. The researchers validated their prognostic model in two large independent lung adenocarcinoma microarray datasets and in a squamous cell carcinoma dataset (adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are two major NSCLC subtypes). Finally, they explored the roles of specific NRs in the prediction model. This analysis revealed that the ability of the NR signature in tumors to predict outcomes was mainly due to the expression of two NRs—the short heterodimer partner (SHP) and the progesterone receptor (PR). Expression of either gene could be used as a single gene predictor of the survival time of patients, including those with stage I disease. Similarly, the expression of either nerve growth factor induced gene B3 (NGFIB3) or mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) in normal tissue was a single gene predictor of a good prognosis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the expression of NR mRNA is strongly associated with clinical outcomes in patients with NSCLC. Furthermore, they identify a prognostic NR expression signature that provides information on the survival time of patients, including those with early stage disease. The signature needs to be confirmed in more patients before it can be used clinically, and researchers would like to establish whether changes in mRNA expression are reflected in changes in protein expression if NRs are to be targeted therapeutically. Nevertheless, these findings highlight the potential use of NRs as prognostic tumor biomarkers. Furthermore, they identify SHP and PR in tumors and two NRs in normal lung tissue as molecules that might provide new targets for the treatment of lung cancer and new insights into the early diagnosis, pathogenesis, and chemoprevention of lung cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Nuclear Receptor Signaling Atlas (NURSA) is consortium of scientists sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health that provides scientific reagents, datasets, and educational material on nuclear receptors and their co-regulators to the scientific community through a Web-based portal
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) provides information and resources to anyone interested in the prevention and treatment of lung and other cancers
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and professionals about all aspects of lung cancer, including information on non-small-cell carcinoma and on tumor markers (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information about lung cancer and information on how cancer starts
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on nuclear receptors (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3001894  PMID: 21179495
17.  Risk factors of recurrence for resected T1aN0M0 invasive lung adenocarcinoma: a clinicopathologic study of 177 patients 
This study aimed at identifying risk factors of recurrence for completely resected pathologic T1aN0M0 lung adenocarcinomas.
We reviewed the records of 177 T1aN0M0 invasive adenocarcinoma patients, and re-classified achieved surgical specimens according to the new International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, American Thoracic Society, and European Respiratory Society (IASLC/ATS/ERS) lung adenocarcinoma classification. Impact on recurrence-free survival (RFS) for age, gender, smoking history, lymphovascular invasion (LVI) and new classification was analyzed by log-rank test and Cox regression. Two existing prognostic grouping schemes of new classification were compared, and subsequently, the correlation of high-grade group in the better prognostic grouping model with clinical data was investigated statistically.
The 5-year recurrence-free rate was 83.7%. The LVI and new adenocarcinoma classification were significantly associated with 5-year RFS (P = 0.012; P = 0.022, respectively). The designation of papillary predominant subtype in the low-grade group, along with lepidic- and acinar predominant subtype had more prognostic significance than the model of combining papillary-, solid- and micropapillary predominant subtypes as the high-grade group (P = 0.005 versus P = 0.181). This high-grade group has increased risk of recurrence in a multivariate Cox regression (adjusted HR 2.815, 95% CI: 1.239 to 6.397, P = 0.013), and is associated significantly more with male gender (adjusted OR 2.214, 95% CI: 1.050 to 4.668, P = 0.037), and, with borderline significance, the presence of LVI (adjusted OR 2.091, 95% CI: 0.938 to 4.662, P = 0.071).
Our results showed that the solid- and micropapillary predominant subtype of IASLC/ATS/ERS classification remains the only risk factor for post-operative recurrence of T1aN0M0 adenocarcinomas, suggesting that they can be indicators of aggressive tumor behaviors.
PMCID: PMC4168167  PMID: 25216551
Lung adenocarcinoma; Recurrence; New classification; Solid predominant adenocarcinoma; Micropapillary predominant adenocarcinoma
18.  Histologic Patterns and Molecular Characteristics of Lung Adenocarcinoma Associated With Clinical Outcome 
Cancer  2011;118(11):2889-2899.
Lung adenocarcinoma is histologically heterogeneous and has 5 distinct histologic growth patterns: lepidic, acinar, papillary, micropapillary, and solid. To date, there is no consensus regarding the clinical utility of these patterns.
The authors performed a detailed semiquantitative assessment of histologic patterns of 240 lung adenocarcinomas and determined the association with patients’ clinicopathologic features, including recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) rates. In a subset of tumors, expression levels of 2 prognostic molecular markers were evaluated: thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1) (n = 218) and a panel of 5 proteins (referred as the FILM signature index) (n = 185).
Four mutually exclusive tumor histology pattern groups were identified: 1) any solid (38%), 2) any papillary but no solid (14%), 3) lepidic and acinar but no solid or papillary (30%), and 4) acinar only (18%). Patients in group 3 had a higher RFS rate than patients in group 1 (hazard ratio [HR], 0.4510; P = .0165) and group 2 (HR, 0.4253; P = .0425). Solid pattern tumors (group 1) were associated with a lower OS rate than nonsolid pattern tumors (all stages: HR; 1.665; P = .0144; stages I and II: HR, 2.157; P = .008). In the patients who had tumors with a nonsolid pattern, high TTF-1 expression was associated significantly with higher RFS (HR, 0.994; P = .0017) and OS (HR, 0.996; P = .0276) rates in all stages, and a high FILM signature index score was associated with lower RFS and OS rates in all stages (RFS: HR, 1.343; P = .0192; OS: HR, 1.371; P = .0156) and in stages I and II (RFS: HR, 1.419; P = .0095; OS: HR, 1.315; P = .0422).
The presence of a solid histologic pattern was identified as a marker of unfavorable prognosis in patients with primary lung adenocarcinoma. High TTF-1 expression and low FILM signature index scores were associated with a better prognosis for patients who had tumors with a nonsolid pattern.
PMCID: PMC3369269  PMID: 22020674
histologic patterns; lung adenocarcinoma; thyroid transcription factor 1; prognostic signature
19.  Stromal micropapillary component as a novel unfavorable prognostic factor of lung adenocarcinoma 
Pulmonary adenocarcinomas with a micropapillary component having small papillary tufts and lacking a central fibrovascular core are thought to result in poor prognosis. However, the component consists of tumor cells often floating within alveolar spaces (aerogenous micropapillary component [AMPC]) rather than invading fibrotic stroma observed in other organs like breast (stromal invasive micropapillary component [SMPC]). We previously observed cases of lung adenocarcinoma with predominant SMPC that was associated with micropapillary growth of tumors in fibrotic stroma observed in other organs. We evaluated the incidence and clinicopathological characteristics of SMPC in lung adenocarcinoma cases.
Patients and Methods
We investigated the clinicopathological characteristics and prognostic significance of SMPC in lung adenocarcinoma cases by reviewing 559 patients who had undergone surgical resection. We examined the SMPC by performing immunohistochemical analysis with 17 antibodies and by genetic analysis with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and KRAS mutations.
SMPC-positive (SMPC(+)) tumors were observed in 19 cases (3.4%). The presence of SMPC was significantly associated with tumor size, advanced-stage disease, lymph node metastasis, pleural invasion, lymphatic invasion, and vascular invasion. Patients with SMPC(+) tumors had significantly poorer outcomes than those with SMPC-negative tumors. Multivariate analysis revealed that SMPC was a significant independent prognostic factor of lung adenocarcinoma, especially for disease-free survival of pathological stage I patients (p = 0.035). SMPC showed significantly higher expression of E-cadherin and lower expression of CD44 than the corresponding expression levels shown by AMPC and showed lower surfactant apoprotein A and phospho-c-Met expression level than corresponding expression levels shown by tumor cell components without a micropapillary component. Fourteen cases with SMPC(+) tumors (74%) showed EGFR mutations, and none of them showed KRAS mutations.
SMPC(+) tumors are rare, but they may be associated with a poor prognosis and have different phenotypic and genotypic characteristics from those of AMPC(+) tumors.
Virtual Slides
The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here:
PMCID: PMC3320518  PMID: 22225786
lung adenocarcinoma; micropapillary component; stromal micropapillary component; aerogenous micropapillary component; prognostic factor
20.  Correlation of survival and EGFR mutation with predominant histologic subtype according to the new lung adenocarcinoma classification in stage IB patients 
A new lung adenocarcinoma classification proposed by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, American Thoracic Society, and European Respiratory Society (IASLC/ATS/ERS) has recently been published. This study aimed to investigate the utility of the new histological classification for identifying the prognostic subtypes of adenocarcinomas in stage IB patients.Correlations between the classification and the presence of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation status was also studied.
One hundred and thirty-six patients with stage IB lung adenocarcinoma operated on in Zhejiang Cancer Hospital were identified between 2002 and 2011. Patients overall survival and disease-free survival were calculated using Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses. EGFR mutations were detected using the amplification refractory mutation system.
A total of 136 cases were included in current study, of which 38 were papillary predominant, 39 were acinar predominant, 22 were micropapillary predominant, 21 were lepidic predominant subtypes, 14 were solid predominant, and 2 were variants of invasive adenocarcinoma. Patients with micropapillary- and solid-predominant tumors had the lowest five-year disease-free survival (28.4 and 36.7%, respectively). Univariate and multivariate analysis showed that the micropapillary-predominant subtype was an independent predictor of disease-free survival (P = 0.0041 and 0.048, respectively), but not overall survival (P = 0.175 and 0.214, respectively). EGFR mutations were significantly associated with the micropapillary-predominant subtype patients (P = 0.0026). The EGFR mutation frequency is lower in the solid-predominant subtype than other subtypes (P = 0.0508).
The predominant subtype in the primary tumor was associated with prognosis in resected stage IB lung adenocarcinoma. The EGFR mutation frequency of micropapillary-predominant subtype is higher than other subtypes.
PMCID: PMC4067105  PMID: 24885205
Lung adenocarcinoma; IASLC/ATS/ERS classification; Stage IB; Prognosis; EGFR mutation
21.  Successful management of evisceration occurred after exploratory laparotomy for bilateral ovarian micropapillary serous borderline tumors 
Il Giornale di Chirurgia  2013;34(4):128-131.
Micropapillary serous borderline tumor of the ovary is characterized by a more frequent association with extraovarian, especially invasive, implants. The aim of this study was to report the clinicopathological findings of a rare case of micropapillary serous borderline tumor of the ovary since there are less than 100 similar cases in the published literature. Additionally, the successful management of evisceration that complicated the postoperative stay of the patient is analyzed. The incidence of this severe complication is estimated between 0.29–2.3%. There are four main causes: suture tearing through the fascia, knot failure, suture failure, and extrusion of abdominal contents between sutures placed too far apart. At least 50% of the cases are due to technical error with a potentially lethal result.
PMCID: PMC3915579  PMID: 23660166
Ovarian borderline tumors; Micropapillary serous tumors; Ovarian cancer; Evisceration
22.  Pathogenesis of Ovarian Cancer. Lessons from Morphology and Molecular Biology and their Clinical Implications 
The received view of ovarian carcinogenesis is that carcinoma begins in the ovary, undergoes progressive “dedifferentiation” from a well to a poorly differentiated tumor and then spreads to the pelvic and abdominal cavities before metastasizing to distant sites. It has therefore been reasoned that survival for this highly lethal disease could be improved by developing screening methods that detect disease when it is confined to the ovary. To date, however, no prospective, randomized trial of any ovarian cancer screening test(s) has demonstrated a decrease in mortality. We believe that one of the main reasons for this is that the dogma underlying ovarian carcinogenesis is flawed. Based on studies performed in our laboratory over the last decade we have proposed a model of ovarian carcinogenesis that takes into account the diverse nature of “ovarian cancer” and correlates the clinical, pathologic and molecular features of the disease. In this model, ovarian tumors are divided into two groups designated Type I and Type II. Type I tumors are slow growing, generally confined to the ovary at diagnosis and develop from well established precursor lesions that are termed “borderline” tumors. Type I tumors include low-grade micropapillary serous carcinoma, mucinous, endometrioid, and clear cell carcinomas. They are genetically stable and are characterized by mutations in a number of different genes including KRAS, BRAF, PTEN, and beta-catenin. Type II tumors are rapidly growing, highly aggressive neoplasms for which well defined precursor lesions have not been described. Type II tumors include high-grade serous carcinoma, malignant mixed mesodermal tumors (carcinosarcomas) and undifferentiated carcinomas. This group of tumors has a high level of genetic instability and is characterized by mutation of TP53. The model helps to explain why current screening techniques, aimed at detecting stage I disease, have not been effective. Tumors that remain confined to the ovary for a long period of time belong to the Type I group but they account for only 25% of the malignant tumors. The vast majority of what is considered “ovarian cancer” belongs to the Type II category and these are only rarely confined to the ovary. Although the reasons for this are not entirely clear, it appears that some tumors evolve rapidly and spread to extra-ovarian sites early in their development. In addition, a significant number of Type II “ovarian carcinomas” develop outside the ovary, specifically, the peritoneum and fallopian tube, and involve the ovary secondarily. These tumors are advanced stage at their inception. Therefore, a more realistic endpoint for the early detection of ovarian carcinoma may be volume and not stage of disease. Thus, the model which correlates the clinical and pathologic features of “ovarian cancer” with the specific molecular genetic events that play a role in tumor progression can lead to a more rational approach to early detection and to more targeted therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC2794425  PMID: 18317228
23.  Aberrant DNA Methylation of OLIG1, a Novel Prognostic Factor in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e108.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Currently, tumor, node, metastasis (TNM) staging provides the most accurate prognostic parameter for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the overall survival of patients with resectable tumors varies significantly, indicating the need for additional prognostic factors to better predict the outcome of the disease, particularly within a given TNM subset.
Methods and Findings
In this study, we investigated whether adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas could be differentiated based on their global aberrant DNA methylation patterns. We performed restriction landmark genomic scanning on 40 patient samples and identified 47 DNA methylation targets that together could distinguish the two lung cancer subgroups. The protein expression of one of those targets, oligodendrocyte transcription factor 1 (OLIG1), significantly correlated with survival in NSCLC patients, as shown by univariate and multivariate analyses. Furthermore, the hazard ratio for patients negative for OLIG1 protein was significantly higher than the one for those patients expressing the protein, even at low levels.
Multivariate analyses of our data confirmed that OLIG1 protein expression significantly correlates with overall survival in NSCLC patients, with a relative risk of 0.84 (95% confidence interval 0.77–0.91, p < 0.001) along with T and N stages, as indicated by a Cox proportional hazard model. Taken together, our results suggests that OLIG1 protein expression could be utilized as a novel prognostic factor, which could aid in deciding which NSCLC patients might benefit from more aggressive therapy. This is potentially of great significance, as the addition of postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy in T2N0 NSCLC patients is still controversial.
Christopher Plass and colleagues find thatOLIG1 expression correlates with survival in lung cancer patients and suggest that it could be used in deciding which patients are likely to benefit from more aggressive therapy.
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Most cases are of a type called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Like other cancers, treatment of NCSLC depends on the “TNM stage” at which the cancer is detected. Staging takes into account the size and local spread of the tumor (its T classification), whether nearby lymph nodes contain tumor cells (its N classification), and whether tumor cells have spread (metastasized) throughout the body (its M classification). Stage I tumors are confined to the lung and are removed surgically. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Stage III tumors have spread throughout the chest, and stage IV tumors have metastasized around the body; patients with both of these stages are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I or II lung cancer, but only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer, survive for five years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
TNM staging is the best way to predict the likely outcome (prognosis) for patients with NSCLC, but survival times for patients with stage I and II tumors vary widely. Another prognostic marker—maybe a “molecular signature”—that could distinguish patients who are likely to respond to treatment from those whose cancer will inevitably progress would be very useful. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells divide uncontrollably and can move around the body. These behavioral changes are caused by alterations in the pattern of proteins expressed by the cells. But what causes these alterations? The answer in some cases is “epigenetic changes” or chemical modifications of genes. In cancer cells, methyl groups are aberrantly added to GC-rich gene regions. These so-called “CpG islands” lie near gene promoters (sequences that control the transcription of DNA into mRNA, the template for protein production), and their methylation stops the promoters working and silences the gene. In this study, the researchers have investigated whether aberrant methylation patterns vary between NSCLC subtypes and whether specific aberrant methylations are associated with survival and can, therefore, be used prognostically.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used “restriction landmark genomic scanning” (RLGS) to catalog global aberrant DNA methylation patterns in human lung tumor samples. In RLGS, DNA is cut into fragments with a restriction enzyme (a protein that cuts at specific DNA sequences), end-labeled, and separated using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to give a pattern of spots. Because methylation stops some restriction enzymes cutting their target sequence, normal lung tissue and lung tumor samples yield different patterns of spots. The researchers used these patterns to identify 47 DNA methylation targets (many in CpG islands) that together distinguished between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, two major types of NSCLCs. Next, they measured mRNA production from the genes with the greatest difference in methylation between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. OLIG1 (the gene that encodes a protein involved in nerve cell development) had one of the highest differences in mRNA production between these tumor types. Furthermore, three-quarters of NSCLCs had reduced or no expression of OLIG1 protein and, when the researchers analyzed the association between OLIG1 protein expression and overall survival in patients with NSCLC, reduced OLIG1 protein expression was associated with reduced survival.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that different types of NSCLC can be distinguished by examining their aberrant methylation patterns. This suggests that the establishment of different DNA methylation patterns might be related to the cell type from which the tumors developed. Alternatively, the different aberrant methylation patterns might reflect the different routes that these cells take to becoming tumor cells. This research identifies a potential new prognostic marker for NSCLC by showing that OLIG1 protein expression correlates with overall survival in patients with NSCLC. This correlation needs to be tested in a clinical setting to see if adding OLIG1 expression to the current prognostic parameters can lead to better treatment choices for early-stage lung cancer patients and ultimately improve these patients' overall survival.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Patient and professional information on lung cancer, including staging (in English and Spanish), is available from the US National Cancer Institute
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on non-small cell lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Cancerbackup provides patient information on lung cancer
CancerQuest, provided by Emory University, has information about how cancer develops (in English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian)
Wikipedia pages on epigenetics (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The Epigenome Network of Excellence gives background information and the latest news about epigenetics (in several European languages)
PMCID: PMC1831740  PMID: 17388669
24.  Clinico-Pathological Features and Prognosis of Invasive Micropapillary Carcinoma Compared to Invasive Ductal Carcinoma: A Population-Based Study from China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e101390.
Invasive micropapillary carcinoma (IMPC) of the breast is a rare subtype of breast cancer that is associated with a high incidence of regional lymph node metastases and a poor clinical outcome. However, the clinico-pathological features and prognostic factors of IMPC are not well understood.
Patients and Methods
A total of 188 IMPC cases and 1,289 invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) cases were included. The clinical features, breast cancer-specific survival (BCSS) and recurrence/metastasis-free survival (RFS) of the patients were compared between these two groups.
The IMPC patients exhibited more features of aggressive carcinoma than the IDC patients, including larger tumor size, higher tumor stage, a greater proportion of nodal involvement and an increased incidence of lymphovascular invasion. Patients with IMPC had lower 5-year BCSS and RFS rates (75.9% and 67.1%, respectively) than patients with IDC (89.5% and 84.5%, respectively). Compared to IDC patients, the patients with IMPC had a significantly higher percentage of stage III breast cancer (51.3% versus 21.7%). In a stage-matched Kaplan-Meier analysis, the patients with stage III IMPC had lower 5-year BCSS and RFS rates than patients with stage III IDC (BCSS, P = 0.004; RFS, P = 0.034). A multivariate analysis revealed that TNM stage was an independent prognostic factor for patients with IMPC. The proportion of cancers with a luminal-like subtype was significantly higher in IMPC than in IDC (P<0.001). However, after matching by molecular subtype, the patients with IMPC had significantly worse clinical outcomes than patients with IDC.
In Chinese women, IMPCs displayed more aggressive behaviors than IDCs, resulting in poorer clinical outcomes for patients with IMPC, regardless of a favorable molecular subtype. Our findings illustrate that the poorer survival of patients with IMPC might be due to an increased incidence and aggressiveness of tumors in TNM stage III.
PMCID: PMC4076314  PMID: 24977705
25.  Micropapillary bladder cancer: a review of Léon Bérard Cancer Center experience 
BMC Urology  2009;9:5.
Micropapillary bladder cancer is a rare and aggressive variant of urothelial carcinoma. A retrospective review of our experience in management of patients with muscle-invasive or metastatic micropapillary bladder cancer was performed to better define the behavior of this disease.
We reviewed the records of the 11 patients with micropapillary bladder cancer who were evaluated and treated at Léon Bérard Cancer Center between 1994 and 2007, accounting for 1,2% of all urothelial tumors treated in this institution.
Mean patients age was 60 years. The majority of patients (72%) were diagnosed after 2004. After a median follow-up of 31.7 months, median overall survival was 19 months. Two patients presented with stage II, one with stage III and eight with stage IV disease All 5 patients who had node positive metastases and treated with radical surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy relapsed and had a disease free survival of 9.6 months.
Micropapillary bladder cancer is probably an underreported variant of urothelial carcinoma associated with poor prognosis. Adjuvant chemotherapy might have a questionable efficacy and the optimal treatment strategy is yet to be defined.
PMCID: PMC2713271  PMID: 19534791

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