Uterine Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2019

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about scientific research being done to learn more about uterine cancer and how to treat it. Use the menu to see other pages.

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 best diagnostic and treatment options for you.

  • New types of targeted therapy. The most notable development in the treatment of endometrial cancer is an increasing understanding of tumor genomics. This area of science seeks to identify mutations in the tumor’s genes that might “drive” or cause the tumor to grow. Testing can be done on your tumor sample to look for these genetic mutations, and the results will help decide whether your treatment options include a type of treatment called targeted therapy, which may be available in clinical trials. Many targeted treatments are being studied for the treatment of uterine cancer, including ridaforolimus and temsirolimus (Torisel).

  • Targeted therapy to treat a rare type of uterine cancer. Uterine serous carcinoma is a rare but aggressive type of endometrial cancer. About 30% of these tumors express the HER2 gene. In a phase II clinical trial, researchers found that trastuzumab (Herceptin) combined with a combination of chemotherapy was effective in treating these kinds of tumors. Trastuzumab is a HER2 targeted therapy mostly used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer. In the women in this study, trastuzumab stopped the progression of the disease for a median of 12.6 months compared to 8.0 months for those who received only standard chemotherapy. The median is the midpoint, meaning that half of the patients had their disease stopped for less than the median and half had their disease stopped for more than the median.

  • MRI-guided radiation therapy. As described in Types of Treatment, MRI-guided radiation therapy combines MRI with a linear accelerator to deliver the radiation with more accuracy and precision. This helps reduce the amount of healthy tissues exposed to the radiation and focuses the treatment more on the tumor and affected organs. Systems to deliver this treatment are being studied.

  • Immunotherapy. Other research includes immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, which is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. There is interest in a specific area of immunotherapy called “checkpoint inhibitors,” such as PD-1 or CTLA4 targeted immunotherapies. They help activate the immune system and can shrink tumors. Some of these immunotherapies work better in combination with other treatment types. There are ongoing clinical trials examining different drugs and various combinations in uterine cancer.

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

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

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:

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers guidance in how to cope with the physical, emotional, social, and financial changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.