Current Gaps in Ovarian Cancer Epidemiology: The Need for New Population-Based Research.
With recent ovarian cancer screening studies showing no clinically significant mortality benefit, preventing this disease, identifying high-risk populations, and extending survival remain priorities. However, several challenges are impeding progress in ovarian cancer research. With most studies capturing exposure information from 10 or more years ago, evaluation of how changing patterns of exposures, such as new oral contraceptive formulations and increased intrauterine device use, might influence ovarian cancer risk and survival is difficult. Risk factors for ovarian cancer should be evaluated in the context of tumor histotypes, which have unique molecular features and cells of origin; this is a task that requires large collaborative studies to achieve meaningful sample sizes. Importantly, identification of novel modifiable risk factors, in addition to those currently known to reduce risk (eg, childbearing, tubal ligation, oral contraceptive use), is needed; this is not feasibly implemented at a population level. In this Commentary, we describe important gaps in knowledge and propose new approaches to advance epidemiologic research to improve ovarian cancer prevention and survival, including updated classification of tumors, collection of data on changing and novel exposures, longer follow-up on existing studies, evaluation of diverse populations, development of better risk prediction models, and collaborating prospectively with consortia to develop protocols for new studies that will allow seamless integration for future pooled analyses.
Epidemiology Working Group Steering Committee, Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium Members of the EWG SC, in alphabetical order:, ; Doherty, JA; Jensen, A; Kelemen, LE; Pearce, CL; Poole, E; Schildkraut, JM; Terry, KL; Tworoger, SS; Webb, PM; Wentzensen, N
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