New treatment options being tested for endometrial cancer patients
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancers, according to the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus.
Most common after menopause and more common in women with obesity, endometrial cancer involves the lining of the uterus.
Dr. Michael Robinson, a gynecologic oncology specialist with Novant Health, discussed a new treatment option being used for some endometrial cancer patients.
“So traditionally, cancer has been treated with a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. These are all very effective treatments, but cancer cells find ways to avoid these as well so that they’re less effective in the future,” Dr. Robinson explains. “Immunotherapy is a newer treatment type that has emerged over the past several years, the origins really go back to the late 1800s with the discovery that our body’s immune systems are actually able to fight cancer much the way we fight a cold, the flu, COVID. But more specifically, in 2018, physicians won a Nobel Prize for a specific type of immunotherapy treatment that involves giving medication through the veins much like chemotherapy to ramp up the immune system and help it to fight tumors that way, as opposed to targeting cancer cells directly like the chemotherapy does.”
The use of immunotherapy may prove successful for some patients, and combining this new practice with traditional treatments has shown a lot of promise.
“It can be used by itself specifically in uterine cancers and gynecologic cancers,” Dr. Robinson adds. “There are studies that have shown that it’s less effective when used by itself and that when you use it with traditional chemotherapy, these chemotherapy drugs are thought to actually sensitize the tumor cells to the immunotherapy, which produces what we call a synergistic effect meaning that it is more effective using the combination as opposed to using either type alone.”
Right now at Novant Health, a trial is underway that focuses on advanced endometrial cancers and the effects that treatment options have on fighting the disease.
“At Novant Health Hanover Regional Medical Center we have a trial with advanced endometrial cancers, meaning cancers that have either spread at the time they’re diagnosed or people who’ve been treated before and the cancers have come back. And this involves a combination of two different chemotherapy medications and patients are either given an immunotherapy drug or placebo drug.”
According to Dr. Robinson, the trial is in its investigational stage at the moment, but the results have been promising so far.
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