Common birth control device may be cost-effective treatment for early endometrial cancer

October 16, 2012
An intrauterine device is effective in treating early-stage endometrial cancer in morbidly obese and high-risk surgery patients, said Dr. Sharad Ghamande, a gynecologic surgeon and oncologist at the GHSU Cancer Center, Chief of the Section of Gynecologic Oncology at the Medical College of Georgia, and principal investigator on the study, and could lead to a cost-effective treatment for all women with this cancer type. Credit: Phil Jones

A common birth control device is effective in treating early-stage endometrial cancer in morbidly obese and high-risk surgery patients, said Georgia Health Sciences University Cancer Center researchers, and could lead to a cost-effective treatment for all women with this cancer type.

Endometrial , which starts in the , is the third most common gynecologic cancer, striking more than 47,000 American women every year, particularly the obese. "Total hysterectomy, sometimes with removal of lymph nodes, is the most common treatment for this type of cancer. But women who are morbidly obese or who have are not good candidates for surgery," said Dr. Sharad Ghamande, a gynecologic surgeon and oncologist at the GHSU Cancer Center, Chief of the Section of Gynecologic Oncology at the Medical College of Georgia, and principal investigator on the study.

For two years, Ghamande and his team followed a small group of high-risk patients with early-stage endometrioid adenocarcinoma, a common subtype of endometrial cancer, and those with atypical endometrial hyperplasia, or thickening of the uterine lining, which can lead to cancer. Patients were treated with an intrauterine device that releases the progestin levonorgestrel, successfully used for the past decade as a contraceptive.

The endometrial stripe, or thickness of the endometrium, was measured with transvaginal ultrasound before the study and at the three- and six-month marks. The stripe's progressive thinning at each stage demonstrated the effectiveness of the treatment. Subsequent endometrial biopsy found reversal of abnormal cell growth, known as neoplastic changes, in all patients.

Ghamande's group also analyzed 13 published studies and found a complete pathological response in 91.3 percent of cases, with no progression of disease, confirming their findings. The study also validated use of transvaginal ultrasound, commonly used to diagnose endometrial cancer, as a useful follow-up tool in assessing endometrial cancer treatment.

"Thirty to 35 percent of women with hyperplasia will go on to develop , and in 30 percent of these cases, women will present with a co-existing cancer," said Ghamande. "Traditional treatments can result in postoperative complications and morbidity, not only in patients at high risk. But we may succeed in establishing a lower-risk and more cost-effective way of managing this cancer in all women."

"Identifying better treatments for cancer is the most important goal of our cancer research center," said Dr. Samir N. Khleif, Director of the GHSU Cancer Center. "Studies such as Dr. Ghamande's are changing the landscape of cancer care today, both here in Georgia and around the world."

Ghamande and Dr. Cinar Aksu, a GHSU Cancer Center fellow, presented the study results on Tuesday during the International Gynecological Cancer Society's 14th biennial meeting. Dr. Michael Mcfee, a gynecologic oncologist, and fellow Dr. Steve Bush, both of the GHSU Cancer Center, co-authored the study.

Explore further: Low bone density medications may have protective effect on endometrial cancer

Related Stories

Low bone density medications may have protective effect on endometrial cancer

March 21, 2012
Low bone density medications, such as Fosamax, Boniva and Actonel, may have a protective effect for endometrial cancer, according to a study at Henry Ford Hospital.

Women who give birth after age 30 lower their risk of endometrial cancer

July 25, 2012
Women who last give birth at age 40 or older have a 44 percent decreased risk of endometrial cancer when compared to women who have their last birth under the age of 25, according to strong evidence in a new, international ...

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.