Gene Mutation May Up Risks of Endometrial Cancer

Marker indicates aggressiveness of the disease, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, May 27, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- A genetic marker for aggressive endometrial cancer has been identified by U.S. researchers, who said their finding could lead to more targeted and risk-appropriate treatments.

The researchers, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, found that genetic mutation of the ATR gene in tumors boosts the risk of cancer recurrence and death in women with a highly aggressive form of the disease known as endometrioid endometrial cancer.

The ATR gene directs cellular responses to DNA damage, the researchers noted.

"Women whose endometrial cancers have an ATR mutation have more than four times the risk of having their cancer return," study author Dr. Israel Zighelboim, a gynecologic oncologist, said in a news release from the university. "This and similar tumor biomarkers could potentially identify those patients most in danger of recurrence and guide the development of treatments aimed at these more aggressive tumors."

ATR mutations were found in about 5 percent of the 248 endometrioid endometrial tumor samples analyzed by the researchers. Women with ATR mutations were 4.29 times more likely to have the cancer recur after treatment and 3.88 times more likely to die.

The study appears online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Zighelboim and his research colleagues plan to see if the prognostic value of ATR mutations can be confirmed in a larger group of women and to investigate the association between ATR mutations and treatment response after cancer recurrence.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about endometrial cancer.

SOURCE: Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, news release, May 26, 2009

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