Scientists from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (TX, USA) have recently discovered genetic mutations in endometrioid endometrial carcinoma (EEC), details of which were published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The mutations identified have been found to link to a more lethal version of Type 1 EEC, which was previously believed to respond well to treatment.
“EEC is categorized into subtypes that help determine risk of recurrence and guide treatment,” commented Wei Zhang of MD Anderson. “Most patients have Type I, which can be diagnosed early and generally has a good outcome with treatment.”
The research team however, uncovered a more virulent form of Type I EEC in a group of patients, which they termed Cluster II.
“The patients were mostly younger and obese that’s typical for Type I. What’s unusual is for patients in this disease category to have decreased survival rates,” explained Zhang. “Molecular subtyping of EEC may help oncologists with diagnosis and prognosis within this unique subset.
Within Cluster II, the team identified distinctive genetic mutations in 87% of the patients. The researchers predominately found the mutations within exon 3 of the CTNNB1 gene. They found that mutations to this region generally resulted in the normally passive Type 1 becoming lethal in some patients.
Zhang’s team commented on the findings, stating that although the two cancers appeared similar, the findings of the genetic differences in Cluster II should lead to earlier intervention and more effective treatment.
“The identification of this second cluster of patients with endometrial cancer helps to refute long-standing teachings that young, obese patients universally have endometrial cancers that are estrogen-driven and thus have a good prognosis,” reported Russell Broaddus, also of MD Anderson. “Endometrial cancer in this patient population is much more complex than we were previously led to believe. We hope that the study results can help pave the way for more individualized therapy of endometrial cancer patients who have tumors with CTNNB1 mutations.”