Uterine Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2016

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.

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.

  • New therapies. The most notable development in the treatment of endometrial cancer, as with many other types of cancer, is doctors’ increasing understanding of tumor genomics. This area of science seeks to identify mutations in genes in the tumor that might “drive” or cause the tumor to grow.  Testing can be done on your tumor sample to look for these mutations, and the results will help decide whether your treatment options include a type of treatment called targeted therapy, including through clinical trials.

    In endometrial cancer one example has already shown that mutations in a pathway called PI3K/AKT/MTOR are commonly found, and patients with recurrent uterine cancer may benefit from using a drug that targets this pathway called everolimus (Afinitor, RAD001). Other drugs that target this pathway are also available.

    Another type of targeted therapy recently shown to have activity for patients with endometrial cancer are called angiogenesis inhibitors, such as with the drug bevacizumab (Avastin) that targets blood vessel growth that feeds tumors as one mechanism of its action. 

    Other research includes immunotherapy, which are treatments designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. There is much interest in a specific area of immunotherapy called “checkpoint inhibitors,” such as PD-1 or CTLA4 targeted agents.  Examples of immunotherapy agents are nivolumab or ipilimumab (Yervoy). These agents help the immune system activate and often cause tumors to shrink. Some of these agents work better in combination with other treatment types. Clinical trials about each agent and different combinations for uterine cancer are ongoing.

  • Palliative care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current endometrial cancer treatments to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Patients are strongly encouraged to talk with the doctor about clinical trials when considering all of their treatment options are being made.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding uterine cancer, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

  • Visit the website of the Conquer Cancer Foundation to find out how to help support research for every cancer type. Please note this link takes you to a separate ASCO website. 

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance in how to cope with the physical, emotional, and social changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.