Genetic Testing a Potential Game Changer in the Approach to Endometrial Cancer

June 2013, Vol 4, No 5 - Value Propositions

Researchers have analyzed the genetic makeup of hundreds of endometrial tumors that may lead to targeted therapies for subpopulations of patients with this deadly cancer. Endometrial cancer, which affects the lining of the uterus, is the fourth most common cancer among women in the United States. Although most of the patients with type I endometrial cancer are cured, patients with type II endometrial cancer have few treatment options.

This new study funded by the National Institutes of Health reveals that approximately 1 of 4 tumors classified by pathologists as high-grade endometrioid cancer have genetic changes that manifest the same characterizations as those of serous tumors. Thus, patients with these tumors may therefore benefit from similar treatments.

In addition, genetic similarities were found between endometrial cancers and other types of tumors. Type II endometrial tumors share features with subtypes of breast and ovarian cancers. This information may open the door to a personalized approach for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with endometrial cancer, including new targeted therapies that are based on the genetic makeup of the tumor. “Developing therapies for each subtype independent of the other may improve outcomes,” said a coleader of the study, Elaine R. Mardis, PhD, Director of Technology Development at The Genome Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO. (National Institutes of Health; June 2013)