Cancer in three varying forms of uterine cancer is diagnosed in nearly 47,000 women each year and the cancer kills about 8,000 of those victims each year as well. What makes it so tough for the doctors who treat the victims, as well as for the victims themselves to understand, is that in some instances, presumably because of genetic alterations that occur in the body of the victim, the disease turns rapidly deadly as opposed to a more slowly-developing cancer. Unfortunately, these types of tumors make up about 80 percent of all the diagnosed tumors in this variated type of cancer, and the only certain cure is surgery, and that is possible only if the doctor treating the patient found the tumors at an early stage. Even if caught early enough, surgery can save the life but the fact of the surgery will force the alteration of the relationship of that couple forever.
Medical researchers are looking for new and better ways to spot – if not the disease itself, then the potential for it – primarily so that doctors will have time for a full examination of the tumor before making a final decision on surgery.
Another avenue of ongoing medical research is to see if the genes can somehow be neutered so that they will not grow and create tumors. If that could be done – and that is not yet known – the surgery process might not be necessary to protect the woman’s life, but the tumors would not develop, the cancer would not develop, and the personal relationship of the man and his once-again healthy wife would remain viable.
So, an exhaustive study of the makeup of the abnormal genes is currently underway to see if there might be a way of altering them without surgery, as well as ensuring that the cancer would not develop. That, at least in theory, would allow a woman to live normally as well as healthily, and that, if it could be assured, would be a vast step forward than the current level of treatment now.
But, the harsh reality is that very likely the problem in each woman might be so unique to her body makeup that a process that helped her regain freedom from cancer might not work in all other women or, for that matter, any other women. That isn’t to say that a unique treatment that works in all women might not be found. It just doesn’t seem all that likely at the moment. But, year by year, science adds new tools, learns new procedures, finds new information about cells and how to combat disease. Sooner or later, these cancers will be as resolved as the killer diseases of the 20th Century were dispatched one by one over the decades.
These cancerous endometrial tumors account for 39 percent of the deaths of women who carried these types of tumors in their bodies, and at the federal Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, those killers are slated for execution as soon as researchers can come up with a way to do so. And, they are getting closer month by month.
To determine which genes are altered in serious endometrial cancer, Daphne Bell, Ph.D. who is a medical investigator at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health, put her team to work to make a genomic study of these cells that kill so many young women, averaging about 8,000 deaths a year just in the United States.
They found that these dangerous genes mutated into over 500 variations of cancer, each being in need of a specific method of killing the cancer. Eventually, the researchers focused on the possible mutations of each of the genes that appeared in more than one tumor. Eventually, the research showed that cancerous genes tend to mutate in ways that were not previously known, and do so in a variety of stages. Those mutations are currently being studied.
The new discoveries, Dr. Bell said, “…changes our understanding of some of the genetic alterations that may contribute to this disease.” She said it is still too early to make a direct connection between the findings and prospects for treatments of this aggressive form of uterine cancer.