Precision medicine to drive prevention and management strategies for women with endometrial cancer

Endometrial cancer (EC), or cancer of the uterus, is the most common gynecological cancer in Canada, with new cases and deaths increasing annually, due to an increase in the rate of common risk factors, like obesity. In British Columbia, the number of new EC cases is projected to increase by 50% and mortality to double by 2031. We must investigate economically feasible prevention strategies to control the rate of this cancer.

For women diagnosed with EC, it is difficult for clinicians to reliably distinguish between cancers that can be cured and those likely to progress, because parameters currently used to make this judgement are not reliably measured. Consequently, we give toxic treatment (chemotherapy and radiation) to many patients who may only require surgery, and fail to treat others as aggressively as we should.

My research program adopts a precision medicine approach, defined by the individualized care to EC patients, to predict:

  1. which patients are at high risk of developing EC, and
  2. and of those, which patients are likely to progress. Precision medicine can also improve early screening efforts to reduce EC incidence by detecting and treating pre-cancers, promoting early improved diagnosis, and targeting treatment recommendations for EC patients. This will benefit both patients and the healthcare system, as fewer EC patients will be given expensive toxic cancer treatments that are not needed, or to which they are unlikely to respond.