A woman’s prognosis after an ovarian cancer diagnosis may be affected by a number of unexpected factors, new research suggests.
The study found that diabetes is linked to a 112 percent higher risk of death for women with ovarian cancer. The research also showed that women with a specific type of ovarian cancer actually seemed to benefit from having a high blood pressure (hypertension) diagnosis.
“This is a coincidental and unintended consequence of hypertension and its treatment,” said study co-lead author Kirsten Moysich. She’s a professor of oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.
“But it’s a silver lining to a serious but largely manageable medical condition that has reached epidemic prevalence in the U.S. and many other countries worldwide,” Moysich said in an institute news release.
The researchers reviewed data from 15 studies of women. All had invasive epithelial ovarian cancer. The study didn’t find an overall association between high blood pressure or heart disease and death risk.
However, high blood pressure was linked to a 46 percent lower risk of progression for women with endometrioid ovarian cancer. This type of cancer is a subtype of epithelial ovarian cancer. Endometrioid ovarian cancer usually has better outcomes, the researchers said.
It’s possible that medications to treat high blood pressure may play a role, the study authors suggested.
The study only found an association — not a cause-and-effect link — between ovarian cancer outcomes and conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The study authors said more research is needed.
“Our findings emphasize the importance of understanding the full clinical profile for women with ovarian cancer in order to predict ovarian cancer outcomes,” said co-lead author Albina Minlikeeva. She’s a postdoctoral research affiliate at the institute.
Normally, doctors and researchers look at only clinical factors, such as the stage of a tumor, when predicting cancer prognosis, she said.
More than 22,000 cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, and about 14,000 women die from the disease, the researchers said.
The study was published recently in the journal Cancer Causes & Control.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on ovarian cancer.