Endometrial cancer is often categorized with a group of cancers, including cancer of the cervix, uterus, and ovaries, to form what is commonly recognized as gynecological cancers.
Endometrial cancer is gynecological cancer that begins in the uterus and is among the most common uterine cancers. This type of cancer affects the innermost lining layer of the uterus, which is called the endometrium.
In 2021, an estimated 70,000 Americans were diagnosed with uterine cancer of some form. Their overall five-year survival rate is relatively high at 84%, but tragically, the incidence of uterine cancer continues to rise.
Oddly, some endometrial cancer patients have different prognoses and responses to treatment, even among those with the same stage and tumor grade. Researchers believe this discrepancy may occur due to the four molecular subtypes seen in endometrial cancer. The impact of the varying molecular subtypes, or genetic features, have been of particular interest to one dedicated research team led by National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) researcher Dr. Wei Zhang.
How Researchers Attack Rare Cancers
Dr. Zhang is a leader of precision oncology, using NFCR support since 2006 to characterize underlying genetic mechanisms responsible for cancer growth and progression. His research addresses the variability in cellular properties within and across cancer types, which often leads to treatment resistance and poor survival in patients.
His recent work has focused on how specific gene mutations may be enriched in patients with high-grade and high-stage cancers. His team identified that IK somatic mutations were enriched in these patients. These patients had significantly longer overall survival when compared to groups without these mutations.
Once making this game-changing discovery, the team explored how this mutation contributes to the endometrial cancer progression. The team discovered that inactivating these specific mutations in endometrial cancer patients can improve the chemotherapy response, resulting in longer survival.
Saving Patients’ Lives
This study is paving the path forward for more research teams to further understand the role of this common mutation and how to use it to improve survival rates.
Dr. Zhang and other NFCR-funded researchers are committed to tackling high-risk, high-impact, and potentially high-reward projects. These projects start in a lab and develop into life-saving treatments for cancer patients. Please make a gift today to support researchers like Dr. Zhang and other projects funded by NFCR.
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