feMMe Molecular

A non-surgical alternative to hysterectomy for the treatment of endometrial cancer.

Each year, approximately 3,000 Australia women are diagnosed with endometrial cancer and due to the increasing prevalence of overweight issues and obesity (the main and increasing endometrial risk factor), a rising number of patients are diagnosed young or have multiple severe medical comorbidities.

Currently, hysterectomy is the standard treatment.  Whilst this is highly effective, there are side effects for:

  • Young women who still wish to retain fertility options as a hysterectomy would remove this choice
  • Women with severe co-morbidities and/or morbid obesity who are at risk for surgical complications

It has been identified endometrial cancer is under-researched and the need for a risk-adjusted, personalised treatment for endometrial cancer is critical.

The vision of this research project is to create a new patient-centred approach to personalised treatment options for women with endometrial cancer that account for these risks.  It will also decrease surgery-induced infertility and morbidity and increase availability of treatment options.

The recently completed FEMME trial, identified that up to 61% of early-stage endometrial cancer patients could potentially be treated with hormonal therapy delivered through an intrauterine device and can expect equivalent survival outcomes as standard surgical treatment (hysterectomy).

To translate these trial findings into clinical practice, the new Femme Molecular project will work to identify which patients will respond to hormonal therapy and how to support patients when making complex treatment decisions.

In this project, researchers will use the blood and tissue samples collected as part of the Femme trial, to identify biomarkers of an intrauterine device response that will indicate whether a patient will or will not benefit from this new treatment.

This project aims to develop a personalised treatment decision tool used to counsel endometrial cancer patients about their surgical and non-surgical (hormonal) treatment options. It will take into account key attributes of importance such as fertility preservation, risk of surgical morbidity, risk of relapse, genetic factors, quality of life, patient values and treatment preferences. This work is of critical importance for patients with early onset endometrial cancer, and for frail patients.