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Study Associates Comorbidities With Survival Outcomes in Women With Ovarian Cancer

Key Points

  • While a history of diabetes was associated with a 112% higher risk of mortality across more than 7,600 cases, no significant mortality associations were observed for hypertension or heart disease.
  • Among women with endometrioid ovarian cancer, hypertension—a condition that applied to nearly 26% of women in the pooled analysis—was associated with a 46% lower risk of ovarian cancer progression.

Research from epidemiologists at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, published by Minlikeeva et al in Cancer Causes & Control, suggests that hypertension and diabetes and the use of medications to treat these comorbidities may have an effect on survival outcomes in women with ovarian cancer.

Study Findings

Using pooled data from 15 studies that were part of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium, an international team of collaborators led by Kirsten Moysich, PhD, MS, and Albina Minlikeeva, PhD, MPH, retroactively examined the associations between survival among patients diagnosed with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer and their history of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and medications taken for those conditions.

The investigators found that while a history of diabetes was associated with a 112% higher risk of mortality across more than 7,600 cases, no significant mortality associations were observed for hypertension or heart disease. In fact, the authors report, among women with endometrioid ovarian cancer, a subtype of epithelial ovarian cancer typically associated with better outcomes, hypertension—a condition that applied to nearly 26% of women in the pooled analysis—was associated with 46% lower risk of ovarian cancer progression.

“This is a coincidental and unintended consequence of hypertension and its treatment, but it’s a silver lining to a serious but largely manageable medical condition that has reached epidemic prevalence in the United States and many other countries worldwide,” said Dr. Moysich, Distinguished Professor of Oncology in the Departments of Cancer Prevention and Control and Immunology at Roswell Park.

This study is the first to highlight the role of comorbidities in relation to ovarian cancer survival by histologic subtype and confirmed previous findings linking a history of diabetes to increased risk of death among ovarian cancer patients. It is possible that commonly prescribed antihypertensive medications, including beta blockers, may influence the growth of ovarian tumors. But the team also documented a higher overall risk of death for patients who had ever taken beta blockers and noted that further study is needed to better understand these processes and interactions.

“Our results suggest that it is important to investigate factors that explain the difference in cancer outcomes among women with different types of ovarian cancer. Most studies only consider clinical characteristics at diagnosis, such as stage and histology in relation to ovarian cancer prognosis,” added Dr. Minlikeeva, a postdoctoral research affiliate with Roswell Park’s Department of Cancer Prevention and Control. “Our findings emphasize the importance of understanding the full clinical profile for women with ovarian cancer in order to predict ovarian cancer outcomes.”

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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