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How Next Generation Sequencing Is Boosting the Overall Survival Rate in Ovarian Cancer Patients

Improving our ability to target cancer more precisely is an ongoing field of research in the medical community. Researchers monitor and keep track of how well a population is doing to calculate patients’ overall survival (OS) rate. The higher the OS rate, the more successful a particular treatment may be.

According to the National Cancer Institute, overall survival is defined as “the length of time from either the date of diagnosis or the start of treatment for a disease, such as cancer, that patients diagnosed with the disease are still alive.”  The NCI explains that “In a clinical trial, measuring the OS is one way to see how well a new treatment works.”

By using standardized terms like OS, scientists can compare and contrast results from different studies and treatment centers as they hone their own experiments and share their findings.

Genetic Targeting in the Battle Against Ovarian Cancer

The need to develop better therapies for ovarian cancer is pressing because it’s the second most occurring gynecological cancer, as noted by a Healio News report citing Tamar Safra, MD from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center’s oncology department. Furthermore, ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death stemming from gynecological malignancy.

Safra and fellow scientists examined medical records data from ovarian cancer patients who were being treated at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center from 2002 to 2020.

Their retrospective study compared health information of 103 patients who underwent next generation sequencing, done with comprehensive genomic profiling based on data taken from 804 patients who did not participate in the profiling efforts.

From this group of people who had mutations discovered through genomic profiling, the doctors enrolled 21 patients into a targeted therapy program.

Details of the Experimental Research

The Sourasky Medical Center researchers presented their findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in June.

They noted in their paper’s abstract that, “Homologous recombination deficiency, including the BRCA mutations, are found in 50% of ovarian cancer tumors. Next-generation sequencing provides an understanding of the underlying molecular and genetic patterns to improve ovarian cancer treatment.”

They found that the most frequently occurring actionable mutation is BRCA. It’s found in about 26% of the population (who have been

tested, that is) compared to 36% of those who have not been tested.

Examples of other mutations commonly found in women include CCNE1, detected in about 18% of patients, and TP53, which scientists have detected in about 78% of patients. Knowing the specific mutations a patient has allows oncologists to be more precise in how they treat each incidence of cancer.

After completing their study, the scientists at Sourasky Medical Center discovered that the overall survival rate in people who underwent next generation sequencing was 73.36 months compared to 68.5 months for individuals in the control group who did not receive next generation sequencing to fine-tune their cancer treatment.

What’s more, patients who received matched therapy based on the genetic information saw a median duration of response to treatment of 8.8 months as compared to 4.7 months for those who did not get matched therapy.

Such results indicate that advanced genetic testing can make a real difference in patient outcomes.

Next Generation Sequencing Brings the Promise of Personalized Medical Treatment Closer to Reality

Forward-thinking medical doctors, clinicians, and researchers dream of a day when we can test and assess patients quickly with genetic sequencing systems and then come up with bespoke therapy.

Indeed, customized, personalized medicine looks like it will become a standard part of any physician’s playbook, thanks to next generation sequencing.

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