Expression profiling and individualisation of treatment for ovarian cancer

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Ovarian cancer is the commonest cause of gynaecological cancer-related mortality. Patients with this disease generally undergo surgery followed by platinum-taxane chemotherapy, with additional chemotherapy at relapse. Although the prognosis for patients with advanced cancer is poor — a five-year survival of only 30–40% — there is a wide range of outcomes for individual patients. To date, clinico-pathological variables such as age, stage, grade, histology, debulking status and response to chemotherapy continue to provide the basis on which treatment decisions are made for individual patients. Immunohistochemical markers and information on p53 mutation status have been extensively evaluated in ovarian cancer, but have not yet been shown to be sufficiently informative to influence clinical decisions on a routine basis. The recent advent of expression profiling has provided a new impetus to identifying clinically useful prognostic markers. The ambition of personalised medicine through microarray-based profiling appears to be realistic, but further studies on large uniform cohorts are needed before this potential is fully realised.

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