Uterine Cancer SPORE

Uterine Cancer Facts

Uterine (endometrial) cancer is the most common gynecologic malignancy and the fourth most common cancer in women. 

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015, 54,870 women, an average of 150 a day, will be diagnosed with uterine cancer in the United States, and 10,170 women, approximately 28 women each day, will die from this disease.

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. In contrast to overall cancer statistics, the number of uterine cancer cases continues to increase.

What is a SPORE?

Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs) are funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) through specialized center grants (P50s) that promote interdisciplinary research and move basic research findings from the laboratory to clinical settings, involving both cancer patients and populations at risk of cancer. The focus is a bidirectional approach to translational research, moving laboratory discoveries to clinical settings or clinical observations to the laboratory environment, all with the goal of improving cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and survivorship.

Laboratory and clinical scientists share the common goal of bringing novel ideas to clinical care settings that have the potential to reduce cancer incidence and mortality, and improve survival and quality of life. In order to achieve these goals, SPORE investigators work collaboratively to plan, design and implement research programs that may impact cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, SPOREs approach these goals through collaborative efforts within the individual multidisciplinary SPORE teams, inter-SPORE collaborations, partnerships with other NCI/NIH programs, and public-private partnerships with industry and non-profit organizations. Key qualities of the program feature the inclusion of patient advocates in SPORE activities and cooperation with international investigators.

Goals of the Uterine Cancer SPORE

The overall goal of the Uterine Cancer SPORE at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is to conduct highly innovative translational research for the prevention and treatment of uterine cancer.

Encompassed within this overall goal are the following goals of the program:

  • Develop novel therapeutic strategies for advanced and recurrent endometrial cancer.
  • Promote novel strategies for chemoprevention of endometrial cancer in high risk cohorts, including obese women.
  • Incorporate molecular diagnostics into clinical decision-making.

The Uterine Cancer SPORE is a truly multidisciplinary program that includes clinicians and basic scientists across many scientific and clinical disciplines. Such a multidisciplinary team is necessary to achieve a more thorough understanding of the pathogenesis, prevention and treatment of these tumors.

Highlights from the First Award Period 

In the first seven years of the SPORE (six years of funding, one no-cost extension year), the Uterine SPORE had many successes, including the completion of a phase II clinical trial of RAD001, an mTOR inhibitor, in advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer. Additionally, findings from all four original projects have been incorporated into three of the four new projects that are part of the current round of funding. Moreover, our Career Development Program provided funding to 12 promising young investigators, and our Developmental Research Program provided funding for 12 innovative pilot projects.

Highlights from the Second Award Period

In the fall of 2010, the Uterine SPORE began its second round of funding. Over the last 5 years, we have established a highly productive endometrial cancer translational research community that is unparalleled in breadth and depth. We have a pipeline of junior investigators at our institution and at our collaborating institutions who are actively pursuing novel basic, translational and clinical research.  During this award period, our Career Development Program has provided funding to 13 promising young investigators, and our Developmental Research Program provided funding for 9 innovative pilot projects.

Current Uterine SPORE Status Update

We are in the final year of funding the current award period and have submitted our application for a competitive renewal. We are excited about the proposed projects and their potential to continue to advance translational uterine cancer research with significant opportunities for patient impact. Further updates will be provided as soon as they are available.