September is Gynecologic Cancer Month – the forgotten cousin of cancer diagnoses. Gynecologic cancers include cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. In recognition of Gynecologic Cancer Month, the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) is deep-diving into uterine cancer and sharing exciting research findings leading to better treatment.
Types of Uterine Cancer
Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the uterus and is among the most common uterine cancer. This type of cancer affects the innermost lining layer of the uterus, which is called the endometrium. Uterine sarcoma is another type of cancer that forms in the uterus and affects the connective tissue or muscle.
Because these two different types of cancers affect the same area, it can be hard to tell them apart. Endometrial cancer is more likely to cause pelvis pain. But an early sign of both uterine sarcoma and endometrial cancer is abnormal bleeding – meaning vaginal bleeding or discharge unrelated to menstruation. However, these signs alone may not indicate the exact type of cancer, but it can trigger a warning to visit a doctor.
In 2021, an estimated 70,000 Americans will be diagnosed with uterine cancer of some form this year. Their overall five-year survival rate is relatively high at 84%, but tragically, the incidence of uterine cancer continues to rise.
NFCR-Supported Uterine Cancer Research
Thankfully, NFCR-funded researcher Dr. Wei Zhang is committed to identifying better treatments for cancer patients. As more people are diagnosed with cancer, treatment options must be effective and comfortable for patients. Dr. Zhang and his team discovered a genetic marker that will allow physicians to determine whether to pursue early and aggressive treatment for women diagnosed with endometrial cancer.
Dr. Zhang and his team profiled over 200 tumor samples to understand why forms of endometrial cancers are treatable for some patients but deadly for others. The study concluded that women with a specific mutation in a unique gene were significantly associated with poor clinical outcomes. This ground-breaking discovery allows medical teams to make personalized treatment plans to attack the cancer cells and increase survival rates.
NFCR is dedicated to funding innovative and game-changing researchers like Dr. Zhang. Learn more about his work and see how you can support cancer research here.
Additional Reads You May Enjoy:
Stay up-to-date with the latest information in the cancer community. Receive our monthly e-newsletter and blogs featuring stories of inspiration, support resources, cancer prevention tips, and more; sign up here.