British Columbia is taking the right approach to managing cancer of uterus and ovary, new research confirms


Dr David Huntsman


Dr Michael Anglesio

Dr David Huntsman a Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Dr Michael Anglesio a Research Associate in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine have made a breakthrough in understanding the origin and development of cancer that occurs in the uterus and ovary simultaneously, substantiating an approach to managing the disease practiced by doctors in British Columbia.

Known as synchronous endometrial and ovarian (SEO) cancer, tumours on the endometrial lining of the uterus appear simultaneously with tumours on the ovary, and vice versa. The spread of a tumour from one organ to another (known as metastasis) is virtually always an indication of an advanced stage cancer that requires aggressive treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. However, SEO tumours behave as if they are independent, localized early-stage tumours that often respond well to surgery alone. This controversy regarding whether SEO cancer is metastatic has led to widely differing treatments.

By sequencing frequently mutated cancer genes in 18 pairs of SEO tumours, a new study led by scientists at the BC Cancer Agency, VCHRI and UBC and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) has provided definitive evidence that each pair of SEO tumours are in fact genetically related clones.

The paper, Synchronous Endometrial and Ovarian Carcinomas: Evidence of Clonality, is available from JNCI, here

This joint BC Cancer Agency, VCHRI and UBC study was funded by the Gray Family Ovarian Clear Cell Carcinoma Research Resource, the BC Cancer Foundation, the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society.