Key People: Prof Peter Rogers, Dr Jaqueline Donoghue
Endometrial cancer is a common malignancy of the lining of the uterus (womb) and has a higher incidence than cervical and ovarian cancer combined. Endometrial cancer is traditionally categorised as Type I (endometrioid) or Type II (non-endometrioid) followed by staging and grading as determined by histological characteristics. Recently, the Cancer Genome Atlas analysed more than 600 Type I and Type II endometrial cancers and divided the cancers into four subgroups based upon gene expression. From these findings, a number of amplified and mutated genes were identified in association with each subgroup (including POLε, KRAS, MYC, PTEN, TP53). Although the five-year progression-free survival rates for women with endometrial cancer are good, many women can experience a loss of fertility or other debilitating side effects as a consequence of treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy and/or hysterectomy. At present, there is no definitive stratification test to determine the most appropriate treatment for each patient other than the histological description, lymph node involvement, invasiveness and the presence of extra-uterine disease. Further, there is also a 15 per cent risk of endometrial cancer recurrence and there is no predictive test available to determine which patients are likely to develop cancer or relapse following treatment.
This research project will utilise gene expression data readily available in our laboratory to create a more refined list of genes associated with increased risk of developing endometrial cancer and relapsing after treatment. This project will also include the evaluation of synchrotron microbeam radiotherapy use for the treatment of endometrial cancer while preserving normal endometrial function.