Ovarian Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Linking Ovarian Cancer and Cervicovaginal Microbiota

By: Joseph Fanelli
Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2019

According to findings presented in The Lancet Oncology, community type O cervicovaginal microbiota appear to have a “significant” association with ovarian cancer and with risk factors linked to the disease, such as the BRCA1 germline mutations. Additionally, Nuno R. Nené, PhD, of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women’s Health at the University College London, and colleagues observed that community type O bacteria compositions “dominate” the cervicovaginal microbiota, which occur in women aged 50 years and older.

“Although our findings provide no direct evidence that this seemingly premature aging of the cervicovaginal microbiome is causally involved in the genesis of ovarian cancer, evidence showing an altered microbiome in ovarian cancer samples compared with control fallopian tube samples appears to support this line of reasoning,” the authors concluded. “Our findings warrant further detailed analyses of the vaginal microbiome, especially in high-risk women.”

In this trial, the investigators performed two case-controlled studies of women in Europe. The first set included 360 women—176 of whom were diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer—and highlighted 115 healthy controls and 69 controls with benign gynecologic conditions. The second group was composed of women with BRCA1 mutations (109 women); it included 97 healthy controls for wild-type BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and 14 controls with a benign gynecologic condition for wild-type BRCA1 and BRCA2.

In the first set, the authors found that women aged 50 and older had a higher prevalence of community type O microbiota, including 61% of 133 reported ovarian cancer cases and 59% of 142 control cases, than younger women. The prevalence of type O microbiota in those younger than age 50 was 53% of 43 cancer cases and 29% in 42 control cases. In the BRCA cohort, younger women with BRCA1 mutations were more likely to have type O microbiota when compared with age-matched controls after an adjustment for pregnancy.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at thelancet.com.

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