Using Molecular and Genomic Pathology to Better Control Cancer
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in North America. Despite this, little progress has been made in treating the disease—three-quarters of women with advanced ovarian cancer have a life expectancy of just five years.
Dr. David Huntsman, Canada Research Chair in Molecular and Genomic Pathology, has already discovered that ovarian cancer is not a single disease. Instead, it is made up of several distinct entities or subtypes. Each subtype requires focused research and specific control and treatment strategies. His goal is to shed light on how these individual ovarian cancer subtypes develop so the disease can be detected earlier or even prevented altogether.
Using full-scale genomic analysis, Huntsman and his research team have been able to successfully identify the key genetic mutations associated with the different subtypes of ovarian cancer. These genetic mutations are already used to diagnose ovarian cancer subtypes more accurately. By uncovering the biological bases for these cancers, they may unlock new treatment options.
Huntsman and his team are now using genomics to determine why some women with endometriosis develop ovarian cancer and how this can be prevented. They are also using molecular pathology and genetics to study other rare cancers and cancer susceptibility syndromes. Their aim is to understand the biology behind these diseases to better manage them and come up with more specific treatments.
Ultimately, Huntsman hopes his research will improve the control of cancer through the distribution and use of biologically informed prevention and treatment strategies.