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Mutated gene cited in some ovarian cancers

Finding may help in screening women with endometriosis for cancer risk

Mutations in a gene called ARID1A may be responsible for some cases of ovarian cancer, two studies released September 8 show. The findings establish that the gene normally has a tumor-suppressing role, researchers report in Science and the New England Journal of Medicine.

The findings also improve the outlook for treating and screening ovarian clear-cell carcinoma, which comprises up to 10 percent of ovarian cancers, says David Huntsman, a pathologist and cancer geneticist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

“Ovarian cancer management was a bit of a quagmire until recently, largely because people were treating it as a single disease,” he says. “It’s not.”

Ovarian cancer is stealthy. Only one in five cases is caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries. Ovarian clear-cell carcinoma is a particularly aggressive form that responds poorly to treatment and can recur.

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