Role of epigenomics in ovarian and endometrial cancers

Curtis Balch, Daniela E. Matei, Tim H.M. Huang, Kenneth P. Nephew

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy and while constituting only 3% of all female cancers, it causes 14,600 deaths in the USA annually. Endometrial cancer, the most diagnosed and second-most fatal gynecologic cancer, afflicts over 40,000 US women annually, causing an estimated 7780 deaths in 2009. In both advanced ovarian and endometrial carcinomas, the majority of initially therapy-responsive tumors eventually evolve to a fully drug-resistant phenotype. In addition to genetic mutations, epigenetic anomalies are frequent in both gynecologic malignancies, including aberrant DNA methylation, atypical histone modifications and dysregulated expression of distinct microRNAs, resulting in altered gene-expression patterns favoring cell survival. In this article, we summarize the most recent hypotheses regarding the role of epigenetics in ovarian and endometrial cancers, including a possible role in tumor 'stemness and also evaluate the possible therapeutic benefits of reversal of these oncogenic chromatin aberrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-447
Number of pages29
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA methylation
  • HDAC inhibitor
  • decitabine
  • endometrial cancer
  • epigenetic biomarker
  • histone deacetylase
  • histone methylation
  • microRNA
  • ovarian cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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