T. Rinda Soong, MD, PhD
University of Pittsburgh
2020 Scientific Scholar Award
Early Serous Tubal Proliferations as Alternate Precursors of High-Grade Serous Carcinoma
Identifying the origins of high grade serous ovarian cancer can help us understand how to prevent this disease or detect it at earlier, more treatable stages. Precancerous changes in fallopian tube tissue known as serous tubal intraepithelial carcinoma (STIC) are one of the known sources of ovarian cancer, but they only explain the origin of less than half of the cancers. Dr. Soong discovered that a different precancerous fallopian tube change known as early serous proliferations (ESPs) may be another source of origin for ovarian cancer. Most of these ESPs have the same mutations in a cancer-causing gene, called TP53, as the patient’s tumor. Dr. Soong hypothesizes that ESP cells with these mutations leave the fallopian tube to give rise to ovarian and/or peritoneal cancer. She predicts that women with ovarian cancer who have mutations in the BRCA cancer-causing genes have more of the precancerous ESPs in their fallopian tubes than women without BRCA mutations or women without ovarian cancer. In this study, Dr. Soong will determine the abundance and the types of TP53 mutations seen in the precancerous ESPs between women with different BRCA and/or ovarian cancer status. She will also test whether ESP cells that have cancerous TP53 mutations can be detected in Pap smears and peritoneal (abdominal cavity) fluid samples. The findings of this study will help us understand the potential origins of ovarian cancer and have important applications in the early detection and prevention of ovarian cancer in women with BRCA mutations.