What hormones are associated with ovarian cancer?

David A. Fishman, MD
Gynecologic Oncology
A number of hormones have been implicated in ovarian cancer. Prolactin has been found to be a risk factor for breast and prostate cancer. Not only do ovarian cancer cells express prolactin, but women with a family history of ovarian cancer have been shown to have elevated levels, as prolactin has been shown to induce cancer cell growth and transcription factors, as well as promote transformation of normal ovarian epithelial cells to becoming immortalized and cancerous. Growth hormone is thought to play a role in tumorigenicity via its interactions with IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-I). Ovarian cancer has been linked to changes in circadian rhythms and high nocturnal cortisol levels. It is likely that overexpression of hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase leads to increase conversion of cortisone to cortisol yielding this high cortisol level. Adipokine leptin is a protein hormone with the ability to stimulate growth of ovarian cancer via MAP kinase activation. It also has value as a prognostic indicator.

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