February 6, 2017

A collaborative research project, including Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) investigators, found that estrogen treatments that have long been used in breast cancer patients may also be beneficial to ovarian cancer patients.

For years, research studies, including many done at MWRI, have shown that estrogen plays a role in certain breast cancers. This recent study showed that estrogen receptors are also active in certain types of ovarian cancer. They also found that antiestrogens can block the estrogen signaling which could stop the growth of the cancer cells.

Estrogen receptors are proteins found on cells that receive signals from estrogen that could promote cancer cell growth. Understanding whether estrogen receptors are activated is important because physicians can decide whether to use estrogen or endocrine treatments to slow or stop the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by blocking the body’s ability to produce hormones.

The data further suggests that some patients with ovarian cancer may benefit from estrogen treatment and that biomarkers may be used to predict who would respond to such therapies.

The study included researchers from the Womens Cancer Research Center, a collaborative effort between MWRI and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, as well as Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and University of Michigan. Both gynecological and breast cancer specialists were involved in the study including MWRI researchers Drs. Steffi Oesterreich, Robert Edwards, and Adrian Lee.

For more information on the study, please visit https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28073843.