What is the Latest Research in Endometrial Cancer?

For endometrial cancer, as for virtually every form of cancer, advances in genomics are transforming the understanding and treatment of this disease, which arises in the lining of the uterus or womb.

Panos Konstantinopoulos, M.D., Ph.D. in his lab.

Panos Konstantinopoulos, M.D., Ph.D. in his lab.

As part of the Profile research project at Dana-Farber, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Boston Children’s Hospital, investigators have scanned hundreds of endometrial tumor samples for genetic abnormalities associated with cancer. As more and more samples are analyzed, scientists are exploring whether endometrial cancer is a fairly uniform disease, or, more likely, whether it comprises several molecular subtypes, each with its own set of genetic flaws.

 

These efforts have already yielded some valuable insights. Researchers recently found, for example, that the genes ARID1A and POLE are often mutated in endometrial cancers, says Panos Konstantinopoulos, MD, PhD, of the Gynecologic Oncology Program at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber.

Studies also have uncovered abnormalities in certain genetic “pathways” – signaling circuits consisting of multiple genes – in some endometrial tumors. These include the PI3K pathway, which is altered in a variety of cancers and is the subject of intense efforts to attack with new drugs, and the mismatch repair (MMR) pathway, which is involved in mending damaged cell DNA. Each abnormality represents a possible weak spot in endometrial cancer’s cellular machinery and a potential target for therapies.

“As this type of research progresses, we hope to move from traditional hormonal treatments to a more personal approach based on the molecular make-up of each patient’s tumor,” Konstantinopoulos says.

He notes that because endometrial cancer is often detected in its early stages, treatment with surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy, as well as hormonal therapy, usually cures the disease. When the disease has spread beyond its initial site, the main treatments – chemotherapy and hormonal therapy – often aren’t as successful. For these cases, targeted therapies and, possibly, future immune system-based therapies holds the greatest promise. Research at Dana-Farber has shown, in fact, that endometrial cancers with a defective MMR pathway or POLE mutation appear to be more sensitive to immune system-based therapy.

 

Make An Appointment

For adults: 877-960-1562

Quick access: Appointments as soon as the next day for new adult patients

For children: 888-733-4662

All content in these blogs is provided by independent writers and does not represent the opinions or advice of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or its partners.

Latest Tweets

Dana-Farber @danafarber
Dana-Farber clinicians have been involved in the development of several new agents approved recently for B-cell acu… https://t.co/Oo3SiY79EN
Dana-Farber @danafarber
Dana-Farber #researchers have shown that clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP) - the presence of s… https://t.co/ZlmXSeyKfZ
Dana-Farber @danafarber
CRISPR, a powerful new tool for editing the #DNA instruction manual in animals and humans, is proving a boon to… https://t.co/pCzS3riHPS

Republish our posts on your blog

Interested in sharing one of our stories on your blog? Feel free to republish this content! We just ask that you credit Dana-Farber, link to the original article, and refrain from making edits that change the original context. Questions? Email the editors at insight_blog@dfci.harvard.edu.