bims-ovdlit Biomed News
on Ovarian cancer: early diagnosis, liquid biopsy and therapy
Issue of 2022‒06‒19
nine papers selected by
Lara Paracchini
Humanitas Research

  1. Surg Pathol Clin. 2022 Jun;pii: S1875-9181(22)00013-7. [Epub ahead of print]15(2): 219-234
      Clinical testing for homologous repair (HR) deficiency (HRD) in ovarian cancers has emerged as a means to tailor the use of poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase (PARP) inhibitor therapy to the patients most likely to respond. The currently available HRD tests evaluate tumor tissue for genomic evidence of impairment of the HR pathway of DNA damage repair, which, if present, renders the tumor vulnerable to PARP inhibitors in conjunction with platinum chemotherapy. Germline or somatic mutation of BRCA1/2 is a major contributor HRD. Thus, tubo-ovarian/peritoneal high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC) is enriched by HRD. After highlighting the general concepts underlying HRD testing and PARP inhibitor therapy, this review discusses practical roles for pathologists to maximize the opportunities for eligible patients with ovarian cancer to benefit from HRD testing, chiefly by applying contemporary diagnostic criteria for ovarian cancer tumor typing and navigating through potential pitfalls of tumor types that may mimic HGSC but are unlikely to harbor HRD.
    Keywords:  DNA repair; High-grade serous carcinoma; Homologous recombination deficiency; Ovarian cancer; PARP inhibitor
  2. EMBO Mol Med. 2022 Jun 13. e15729
      Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) is now a clinically important biomarker for predicting therapy response, disease burden and disease progression. However, the translation of ctDNA monitoring into vital preclinical PDX models has not been possible owing to low circulating blood volumes in small rodents. Here, we describe the longitudinal detection and monitoring of ctDNA from minute volumes of blood in PDX mice. We developed a xenograft Tumour Fraction (xTF) metric using shallow WGS of dried blood spots (DBS), and demonstrate its application to quantify disease burden, monitor treatment response and predict disease outcome in a preclinical study of PDX mice. Further, we show how our DBS-based ctDNA assay can be used to detect gene-specific copy number changes and examine the copy number landscape over time. Use of sequential DBS ctDNA assays could transform future trial designs in both mice and patients by enabling increased sampling and molecular monitoring.
    Keywords:  PDX models; circulating tumour DNA; copy number aberrations; liquid biopsies; preclinical treatment study
  3. J Clin Invest. 2022 Jun 15. pii: e154941. [Epub ahead of print]132(12):
      Cancer cells shed naked DNA molecules into the circulation. This circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) has become the predominant analyte for liquid biopsies to understand the mutational landscape of cancer. Coupled with next-generation sequencing, ctDNA can serve as an alternative substrate to tumor tissues for mutation detection and companion diagnostic purposes. In fact, recent advances in precision medicine have rapidly enabled the use of ctDNA to guide treatment decisions for predicting response and resistance to targeted therapies and immunotherapies. An advantage of using ctDNA over conventional tissue biopsies is the relatively noninvasive approach of obtaining peripheral blood, allowing for simple repeated and serial assessments. Most current clinical practice using ctDNA has endeavored to identify druggable and resistance mutations for guiding systemic therapy decisions, albeit mostly in metastatic disease. However, newer research is evaluating potential for ctDNA as a marker of minimal residual disease in the curative setting and as a useful screening tool to detect cancer in the general population. Here we review the history of ctDNA and liquid biopsies, technologies to detect ctDNA, and some of the current challenges and limitations in using ctDNA as a marker of minimal residual disease and as a general blood-based cancer screening tool. We also discuss the need to develop rigorous clinical studies to prove the clinical utility of ctDNA for future applications in oncology.
  4. Cancer Res. 2022 Jun 15. 82(12): 2213-2215
      Forty-five years ago, Cancer Research published the study by Leon and colleagues in which the authors described the observation of increased levels of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in the serum of patients with cancer as compared with healthy individuals, with the highest serum levels in patients with metastatic cancer. Most interestingly was the correlation between serum DNA concentrations and therapy outcome: Increased serum DNA levels were associated with poor response to treatment, whereas decreases in DNA levels during treatment appeared to be a sign of better prognosis. Since the discovery of the prognostic value of blood DNA, much research has been focused on the characterization of cfDNA to understand its origins and increase the sensitivity and specificity of using cfDNA as a prognostic and predictive marker in the battle against cancer. Tumor-specific cfDNA markers that were discovered include genetic alterations, chromosomal aberrations, epigenetic modifications, and DNA fragmentation size. In recent years, due to the development of highly sensitive molecular technologies, cfDNA-based assays are now being introduced into the clinic as the so called "liquid biopsy." The advantages of a liquid biopsy over traditional biopsy and imaging have led to the implementation in the clinic for early cancer detection, improved cancer staging, early detection of relapse, real-time monitoring of therapeutic efficacy, and detection of therapeutic targets and resistance mechanisms. Despite Leon and colleagues' initial skepticism about the potential diagnostic value of serum DNA, cfDNA-based liquid biopsy has become one of the most important tools for personalized cancer treatment. See related article by Leon and colleagues, Cancer Res 1977;37:646-50.
  5. Eur J Cancer. 2022 Jun 14. pii: S0959-8049(22)00283-0. [Epub ahead of print]171 85-95
      BACKGROUND: Stage I epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) encompasses five histologically different subtypes of tumors confined to the ovaries with a generally favorable prognosis. Despite the intrinsic heterogeneity, all stage I EOCs are treated with complete resection and adjuvant therapy in most of the cases. Owing to the lack of robust prognostic markers, this often leads to overtreatment. Therefore, a better molecular characterization of stage I EOCs could improve the assessment of the risk of relapse and the refinement of optimal treatment options.MATERIALS AND METHODS: 205 stage I EOCs tumor biopsies with a median follow-up of eight years were gathered from two independent Italian tumor tissue collections, and the genome distribution of somatic copy number alterations (SCNAs) was investigated by shallow whole genome sequencing (sWGS) approach.
    RESULTS: Despite the variability in SCNAs distribution both across and within the histotypes, we were able to define three common genomic instability patterns, namely stable, unstable, and highly unstable. These patterns were based on the percentage of the genome affected by SCNAs and on their length. The genomic instability pattern was strongly predictive of patients' prognosis also with multivariate models including currently used clinico-pathological variables.
    CONCLUSIONS: The results obtained in this study support the idea that novel molecular markers, in this case genomic instability patterns, can anticipate the behavior of stage I EOC regardless of tumor subtype and provide valuable prognostic information. Thus, it might be propitious to extend the study of these genomic instability patterns to improve rational management of this disease.
    Keywords:  Prognosis; Somatic copy number alteration; Stage I EOC
  6. Mol Cancer. 2022 Jun 11. 21(1): 129
      Early detection can benefit cancer patients with more effective treatments and better prognosis, but existing early screening tests are limited, especially for multi-cancer detection. This study investigated the most prevalent and lethal cancer types, including primary liver cancer (PLC), colorectal adenocarcinoma (CRC), and lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD). Leveraging the emerging cell-free DNA (cfDNA) fragmentomics, we developed a robust machine learning model for multi-cancer early detection. 1,214 participants, including 381 PLC, 298 CRC, 292 LUAD patients, and 243 healthy volunteers, were enrolled. The majority of patients (N = 971) were at early stages (stage 0, N = 34; stage I, N = 799). The participants were randomly divided into a training cohort and a test cohort in a 1:1 ratio while maintaining the ratio for the major histology subtypes. An ensemble stacked machine learning approach was developed using multiple plasma cfDNA fragmentomic features. The model was trained solely in the training cohort and then evaluated in the test cohort. Our model showed an Area Under the Curve (AUC) of 0.983 for differentiating cancer patients from healthy individuals. At 95.0% specificity, the sensitivity of detecting all cancer reached 95.5%, while 100%, 94.6%, and 90.4% for PLC, CRC, and LUAD, individually. The cancer origin model demonstrated an overall 93.1% accuracy for predicting cancer origin in the test cohort (97.4%, 94.3%, and 85.6% for PLC, CRC, and LUAD, respectively). Our model sensitivity is consistently high for early-stage and small-size tumors. Furthermore, its detection and origin classification power remained superior when reducing sequencing depth to 1× (cancer detection: ≥ 91.5% sensitivity at 95.0% specificity; cancer origin: ≥ 91.6% accuracy). In conclusion, we have incorporated plasma cfDNA fragmentomics into the ensemble stacked model and established an ultrasensitive assay for multi-cancer early detection, shedding light on developing cancer early screening in clinical practice.
    Keywords:  Cell-free DNA; Fragmentomics; Machine learning; Multi-cancer early detection
  7. Ann Oncol. 2022 May 30. pii: S0923-7534(22)01207-8. [Epub ahead of print]
    ESMO Guidelines Committee
    Keywords:  ESMO Clinical Practice Guideline; diagnosis; endometrial cancer; follow-up; treatment
  8. Lancet Oncol. 2022 Jun 08. pii: S1470-2045(22)00283-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: Standard-of-care first-line chemotherapy for epithelial ovarian cancer is carboplatin and paclitaxel administered once every 3 weeks. The JGOG 3016 trial reported significant improvement in progression-free and overall survival with dose-dense weekly paclitaxel and 3-weekly (ie, once every 3 weeks) carboplatin. However, this benefit was not observed in the previously reported progression-free survival results of ICON8. Here, we present the final coprimary outcomes of overall survival and updated progression-free survival analyses of ICON8.METHODS: In this open-label, randomised, controlled, phase 3 trial (ICON8), women aged 18 years or older with newly diagnosed stage IC-IV epithelial ovarian, primary peritoneal, or fallopian tube carcinoma (here collectively termed ovarian cancer, as defined by International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics [FIGO] 1988 criteria) and an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0-2 were recruited from 117 hospitals with oncology departments in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, Mexico, South Korea, and Ireland. Patients could enter the trial after immediate primary surgery (IPS) or with planned delayed primary surgery (DPS) during chemotherapy, or could have no planned surgery. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1:1), using the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit at University College London randomisation line with stratification by Gynecologic Cancer Intergroup group, FIGO disease stage, and outcome and timing of surgery, to either 3-weekly carboplatin area under the curve (AUC)5 or AUC6 and 3-weekly paclitaxel 175 mg/m2 (control; group 1), 3-weekly carboplatin AUC5 or AUC6 and weekly paclitaxel 80 mg/m2 (group 2), or weekly carboplatin AUC2 and weekly paclitaxel 80 mg/m2 (group 3), all administered via intravenous infusion for a total of six 21-day cycles. Coprimary outcomes were progression-free survival and overall survival, with comparisons done between group 2 and group 1, and group 3 and group 1, in the intention-to-treat population. Safety was assessed in all patients who started at least one chemotherapy cycle. The trial is registered on, NCT01654146, and ISRCTN registry, ISRCTN10356387, and is closed to accrual.
    FINDINGS: Between June 6, 2011, and Nov 28, 2014, 1566 patients were randomly assigned to group 1 (n=522), group 2 (n=523), or group 3 (n=521). The median age was 62 years (IQR 54-68), 1073 (69%) of 1566 patients had high-grade serous carcinoma, 1119 (71%) had stage IIIC-IV disease, and 745 (48%) had IPS. As of data cutoff (March 31, 2020), with a median follow-up of 69 months (IQR 61-75), no significant difference in overall survival was observed in either comparison: median overall survival of 47·4 months (95% CI 43·1-54·8) in group 1, 54·8 months (46·6-61·6) in group 2, and 53·4 months (49·2-59·6) in group 3 (group 2 vs group 1: hazard ratio 0·87 [97·5% CI 0·73-1·05]; group 3 vs group 1: 0·91 [0·76-1·09]). No significant difference was observed for progression-free survival in either comparison and evidence of non-proportional hazards was seen (p=0·037), with restricted mean survival time of 23·9 months (97·5% CI 22·1-25·6) in group 1, 25·3 months (23·6-27·1) in group 2, and 24·8 months (23·0-26·5) in group 3. The most common grade 3-4 adverse events were reduced neutrophil count (78 [15%] of 511 patients in group 1, 183 [36%] of 514 in group 2, and 154 [30%] of 513 in group 3), reduced white blood cell count (22 [4%] in group 1, 80 [16%] in group 2, and 71 [14%] in group 3), and anaemia (26 [5%] in group 1, 66 [13%] in group 2, and 24 [5%] in group 3). No new serious adverse events were reported. Seven treatment-related deaths were reported (two in group 1, four in group 2, and one in group 3).
    INTERPRETATION: In our cohort of predominantly European women with epithelial ovarian cancer, we found that first-line weekly dose-dense chemotherapy did not improve overall or progression-free survival compared with standard 3-weekly chemotherapy and should not be used as part of standard multimodality front-line therapy in this patient group.
    FUNDING: Cancer Research UK, Medical Research Council, Health Research Board in Ireland, Irish Cancer Society, and Cancer Australia.