Ovarian cancer: targeting the untargetable

Academic Article


  • The premise that all tumors are targetable has been met with some controversy in the approach to epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). Genomic analysis shows that these tumors (specifically, high-grade serous carcinomas) are genomically unstable and lack actionable driver mutations, much like HER2 in breast and gastric cancers. In this paper, Michael Birrer, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital, argues that the interpretation of genomic data in ovarian cancer requires a more thoughtful approach that necessitates a closer inspection of the data beyond the mere presence or absence of mutations. We must look at the extensive genomic alterations in DNA and, to understand more about the role of those genes affected by these changes, look beyond the tumor to the role of the stroma. As such, Dr. Birrer is arguing for the importance of translational research. This will be the key to precision medicine in ovarian cancer, as we approach drug discovery and improvements in treatment. Dr. Birrer is a world-renowned scientist who has devoted his career to the study of gynecologic cancers. He has published over 200 papers and written over 27 book chapters and reviews, served on numerous leadership positions in gynecologic oncology (including as co-chair of the National Cancer Institute's Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee), and remains a clinician-scientist with an active lab and an active clinic. His career trajectory has shown me it is possible to be engaged as a researcher and a clinician and the work he has done has already impacted the care of patients with ovarian cancer. Don S. Dizon, MD, ASCO Educational Book Editor.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 17512164
  • Author List

  • Birrer MJ
  • Start Page

  • 13
  • End Page

  • 15