Uterine Cancer: Latest Research

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about uterine cancer, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

Tumor genetics. Advances in DNA technology have helped scientists understand how genetic mutations (changes) of tumor suppressor genes (genes that prevent tumor growth), such as PTEN, p53, and Rb, can cause cancer. A uterine cancer with these mutations seems to be less responsive to conventional treatment and is more likely to recur. By testing for these genetic changes, doctors may be able to decide which treatment is appropriate for each woman.

Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Doctors continue to find new targets for treatment in tumor cells. Types of targeted therapy being studied for uterine cancer include anti-angiogenesis therapy, which is focused on stopping angiogenesis, the process of making new blood vessels. Because a tumor needs the nutrients delivered by blood vessels to grow and spread, the goal of anti-angiogenesis therapies is to “starve” the tumor. Other research includes immunotherapy (treatments designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer).

Radiation therapy after chemotherapy. For advanced uterine cancer, doctors are exploring the use of radiation therapy after chemotherapy.

Multiple drug combinations. Different types of drugs kill cancer cells in different ways. Using a combination of drugs may increase the chance that the tumor will be destroyed.

Hyperthermia therapy and chemotherapy. Hyperthermia therapy kills cancer cells by increasing body temperature; it also may make cancer cells respond better to chemotherapy.

Improved drug delivery. Chemotherapy is incorporated into fat molecules called liposomes to improve how the drug works.

Tumor markers. Tumor markers are substances found at higher than normal levels in the blood, urine, or body tissues of some people with cancer. Researchers are investigating whether a tumor marker blood test for CA-125 is helpful in detecting recurrent or metastatic uterine cancer.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy. A sentinel lymph node biopsy is a procedure that helps the doctor know whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. This procedure is proven to be useful for breast and other cancers, and doctors are researching its usefulness in uterine cancer.

Fertility preservation. The use of the hormone progesterone is being researched as a treatment for women with early-stage uterine cancer who want to have children in the future.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current uterine cancer treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Learn more about common statistical terms used in cancer research.

To find clinical trials specific to your diagnosis, talk with your doctor or search online clinical trial databases now.

The next section addresses how to cope with the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of its treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Coping with Side Effects, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.