Uterine Cancer Research Program
Uterine (endometrial) cancer is the most common gynecologic malignancy and the fourth most common cancer in women. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2007, 39,080 women, an average of 107 a day, will be diagnosed with uterine cancer in the United States – and 7,200 women, an average of 20 women each day, will die from this disease.
Most uterine cancer patients are post-menopausal, but 25% of women are diagnosed before age 50. Diagnoses before the age of 50 has been linked to a number of risk factors including obesity, and hereditary syndromes such as HNPCC (Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer), also known as Lynch Syndrome.
Despite being the fourth most common cancer in women, there is very little public awareness about uterine cancer, and research funding has traditionally lagged behind that for other cancers. Uterine cancer is highly curable if caught early. An endometrial biopsy, not a Pap smear, is necessary for the diagnosis of uterine cancer. In women with advanced disease, treatment options are limited.
The goal of the Uterine Cancer Research Program is to conduct innovative research in the prevention, early detection, treatment and basic biology of endometrial cancer. In addition, the program is dedicated to educating women and the women’s health community about risk factors and symptoms of uterine cancer.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is the only institution that holds a $10 million, five-year Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant in uterine cancer. The grant funds basic science and clinical research in four areas: novel therapeutics and treatment, screening and prevention, predictive factors and aggressive forms of endometrial cancer. The grant also provides start-up funds for young investigators and seed money for developmental research projects in uterine cancer.
The faculty and staff involved in the Uterine Cancer Research Program are dedicated to defining areas of research that will have maximum impact of the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of uterine cancer.