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Fox Chase Cancer Center research reveals how COX-2 causes ovarian cancer

Fox Chase Cancer Center scientists have identified how an enzyme called COX-2 may promote the development of ovarian tumors, adding further insight into the mechanism of COX-2 inhibitors and the prevention of this highly lethal disease. The data was presented today at the 95th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Orlando, Fla.

"We have found that the over-expression of COX-2 correlates with the loss of the basement membrane in ovarian epithelium cells, thus promoting cancer," said Mike (Xiang-Xi) Xu, Ph.D., who heads the Fox Chase team in this research. "A COX-2 inhibitor may reduce the loss of basement membrane and thus decrease cancer risk."

Previous research had shown that COX-2 inhibitors such as aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) slow the growth of tumors, particularly of the breast and colon, but only now are researchers beginning to understand how COX-2 inhibitors work in thwarting cancer.

In the ovaries and other tissues, basement membrane provides a scaffold to which cells called epithelial cells adhere in an organized fashion, Xu explained. When there is no basement membrane, the epithelial cells become disorganized and unregulated and may undergo transformation from a normal to cancerous state. Xu added that basement membrane is also lost during ovulation, which may help explain the association between frequent ovulation and higher ovarian cancer risk.

Ovarian cancer claims the lives of over 14,000 women each year in the United States, making it the most lethal of all gynecologic malignancies. A strong family history of ovarian or breast cancer is evident in about 5 to 10 percent of ovarian cancer cases. While an average woman's risk of getting ovarian cancer is only about 1.4 percent over her lifetime, the risk increases to between 15 and 60 percent if two or more first-degree relatives (parents, siblings or children) have developed ovarian, breast or a certain type of b
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Contact: Karen Carter Mallet
karen.carter@fccc.edu
215-728-2700
Fox Chase Cancer Center
28-Mar-2004


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