Telomeres are essential for the maintenance of chromosomal integrity. Telomere shortening leads to genomic instability, which is hypothesized to play a role in cancer development and prognosis. No studies to date have evaluated the prognostic significance of telomere length for ovarian cancer.
We examined whether relative telomere length in peripheral blood leukocytes was associated with survival following a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. We analyzed data from a large population-based study of incident ovarian cancer conducted in Ontario between 1995 and 2004. Telomere length was measured using the quantitative PCR-based relative telomere length assay and vital status was determined by computerized record linkage and by chart review (n = 1,042). Proportional hazard models were used to estimate ovarian cancer-specific survival HRs and 95% confidence intervals (CI) associated with quartiles of telomere length z score.
We found no significant relationship between telomere length and ovarian cancer-specific mortality (P log-rank test = 0.55). Compared with women in the lowest quartile of telomere length z score, the HR for women in the highest three quartiles of telomere length z score combined was 0.88 (95% CI, 0.77-1.10). The corresponding estimates for serous and nonserous tumors were 0.68 (95% CI, 0.66-1.13) and 1.13 (95% CI, 0.71-1.79), respectively.
Our data provide preliminary evidence that telomere length likely does not predict outcome after a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
This represents the first study to suggest no prognostic role of telomere length for ovarian cancer.