Ovarian cancer/ Carcinoma of the ovaries
The term ovary describes the female internal sex organ, in which egg cells are produced. Another important task of the ovaries is the production and secretion of female sex hormones.
Ovarian cancer is a malignant disease of the ovaries, which ranks among the most aggressive tumor types in women. About 8,000 women suffer from ovarian cancer in Germany every year. This type of cancer occurs mostly in women over the age of 60.
Ovarian cancer is partly due to genetic causes: patients with a family history of the disease (approximately every tenth case). Similarly to breast cancer, mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 can also be found in ovarian cancer. Compared with the general population, women who have no children, or those who had children later in life, have a 2.5-fold increased risk of suffering from ovarian cancer.
maintrac® for ovarian cancer
Primary therapy involves the complete surgical removal of the tumor, with a subsequent chemotherapy treatment depending on the stage of the disease. For this, platinum compounds (e.g. carboplatin) and paclitaxel are used. Regardless of the stage of disease (metastasized, non-metastasized), maintrac® can monitor the effectiveness of the chosen therapy and may allow for optimization of treatment.
In order to discover new tumor activity as early as possible, monitoring the number of circulating tumor cells after completion of treatment using maintrac®can also be of benefit. If the patient does not suffer a relapse for more than 6 months after treatment, the tumor is considered to be platinum-sensitive. In the case of a relapse occuring at a later stage, treatment with platinum compounds can be continued. For cases of relapse after a period of less than 6 months, the tumor is considered to be platinum-resistant. In this case, therapy without platinum is recommended by medical guidelines. In addition to chemotherapy, use of the antibody Bevacizumab (Avastin) is approved for cases in advanced stages of the disease.
Using maintrac® drug testing, the patients can find out in advance to chemotherapy which is the most effective therapy against their cancer.
Therapy-relevant characteristics in ovarian cancer
Substances used in treatment are mainly directed against characteristic properties of the tumors. This is the reason why patients will only benefit from a targeted treatment if the tumor exhibits these specific characteristics. With maintrac®, it is possible to test for these therapy-relevant characteristics on the basis of the circulating tumor cells in the blood.
- For certain types of ovarian carcinoma, determination of estrogen receptors (ER) or der progesterone receptors (PR) can be useful for targeting of the treatment, as these act as a type of prognostic tumor marker. Both receptors belong to the steroid hormone receptor group, responsible for the effects of the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. They provide an indication of the growth behavior of the tumor cells in the presence of estrogen and progesterone. For example, estrogen receptor-positive cells respond to antihormonal therapies.