Shining a light on rare and aggressive uterine cancers

24 November 2020

Dr Stephanie LheureuxThanks to our donors, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is funding its first research grant focused specifically on rare and aggressive uterine cancers, a critical first step to better outcomes for people with these cancers.  

Uterine cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in females in Canada with roughly 21 women diagnosed every day. There are three main types of uterine cancers, one of which is uterine carcinosarcoma.

“Uterine carcinosarcoma is a rare but very aggressive type of cancer, with few effective treatment options,” says Dr Stephanie Lheureux, a medical oncologist and researcher who received the 2-year, $180,000 research grant. “My team and I are studying this rare uterine cancer with the hope that we can improve survival and quality of life for our future patients and their loved ones.”  

With CCS support, Dr Lheureux and her team are embarking on an ambitious project to delve into the biology of uterine carcinosarcoma and better understand its origins. These cancers are often diagnosed late and do not respond to existing therapies, making them very difficult to treat. Because uterine carcinosarcomas are rare, very little is known about how they grow and why they resist conventional treatments.  

To address this gap, Dr Lheureux and her team are taking advantage of a one-of-a-kind bank of tumour and blood samples donated by people with uterine carcinosarcoma. The researchers are also looking for unique DNA markers in the blood that could be used to detect this cancer early, when it is easier to treat.  

“With this work we hope to understand the biology driving tumour development, progression and metastasis, revealing new targets for future drug development,” says Dr Lheureux. “I am grateful to CCS and its donors for this opportunity to deep-dive into the biology of uterine carcinosarcoma. We are committed to using this funding to produce groundbreaking research which will give hope to our patients.”   

By expanding our understanding of how this cancer starts and grows, this work could lead to improved strategies for early detection and treatment, which could help people with uterine carcinosarcoma live longer.

Interested in funding Canada's best and brightest researchers? Give the Gift of Discovery this holiday season in support of CCS's Innovation Grant.