What`s new in endometrial cancer research?
Changes in DNA
Recent research has taught us more about how certain changes can cause normal cells to become cancer. Defects (mutations) in DNA can change genes that control cell growth. If these genes are damaged, out-of-control growth may result in cancer.
Sometimes, endometrial cancer and colon cancer seem to “run in a family.” We now know that some of families have a higher risk for these cancers because family members have a defect in certain genes that normally help repair DNA damage. If these repair genes are not working right, damage to DNA is more likely to cause cancer to start. Tests for DNA changes may someday help find endometrial cancers early or predict how likely the cancer is to spread. This would help in choosing the best treatment for each woman. The long-range goal of this field of research is gene therapy that can correct the DNA defects that caused the cells to become cancer.
Researchers are looking at new drugs, combinations of drugs, and targeted therapies to treat women with advanced endometrial cancer. Treatment with chemo after surgery (with or without radiation treatment) is also being studied.
Another way to see if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the pelvis is to identify and remove the lymph nodes that most likely are draining the cancer. This is called sentinel lymph node biopsy. To do this, a radioactive substance and blue dye are put into the area with the cancer. The lymph nodes that turn blue (from the dye) or that become radioactive (from the tracer) are removed at surgery. These lymph nodes are looked at closely to see if they contain any cancer cells. This method is often used for some other tumors, such as breast cancer, but it is still new in the treatment of endometrial cancer. It is not yet known whether sentinel lymph node biopsy is as good as taking out the lymph nodes for staging and treatment of endometrial cancer.
Last Medical Review: 08/01/2012
Last Revised: 01/21/2013