Molecular aspects of ovarian cancer

Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2002 Aug;16(4):483-97. doi: 10.1053/beog.2002.0298.


Ovarian cancer is caused by genetic alterations that disrupt proliferation, apoptosis, senescence and DNA repair. Approximately 10% of ovarian cancers arise in women who have inherited mutations in cancer susceptibility genes (BRCA1 or BRCA2). The ability to perform genetic testing allows identification of women at increased risk who can be offered prophylactic oophorectomy or other interventions aimed at preventing ovarian cancer. The vast majority of ovarian cancers are sporadic, resulting from the accumulation of genetic damage over a lifetime. Several specific genes involved in ovarian carcinogenesis have been identified, including the p53 tumour suppressor gene and HER2/ neu andPIC3KA oncogenes. The recent availability of expression microarrays has facilitated the simultaneous examination of thousands of genes, and this promises to extend further our understanding of the molecular events involved in the development of ovarian cancers. Hopefully, this knowledge can be translated into effective screening, treatment, surveillance, and prevention strategies in the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Female
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Oncogenes
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*