United against uterine cancer 

30 August 2021

A researcher working alone can achieve some pretty incredible things, but a group of researchers working together can really drive change for women.

This is the power of ANZGOG’s Uterine Tumour Working Group, chaired by Associate Professor Yoland Antill. The group brings together scientists, clinicians, statisticians and patient advocates, and was set up to assist in the development of preclinical and clinical research to improve outcomes for women with uterine cancer.

“Someone with an idea for a clinical trial or with some preclinical work relating to uterine and endometrial tumours will present their proposal to the group for additional feedback and potentially connect different people together to further develop the idea,” says Associate Professor Antill.

Along with her role in the working group, Associate Professor Antill is also the Principal Investigator of two clinical trials, AtTEnd and PHAEDRA. 

AtTEnd, which is currently recruiting, is one of several large international trials evaluating the effectiveness of using immunotherapy in conjunction with chemotherapy to treat advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer.   

“We know that the majority of endometrial cancers have a low likelihood of response to immune therapy by itself,” says Associate Professor Antill. “Chemotherapy can improve the potential for response to immune therapies in some cancers, so the AtTEnd trial will examine this for women with endometrial cancers.”

Meanwhile, the PHAEDRA trial illustrated why certain types of endometrial tumours respond to immune therapies while others don’t, and new ways of assessing this response using blood tests rather than invasive scans. 

Associate Professor Antill believes the trial will not only be able to create better combinations of therapies to improve how tumours respond to immune therapy, but also make treatment easier and safer for patients.

Having worked as a medical oncologist and cancer researcher for many years, Associate Professor Antill knows exactly what’s possible when passionate experts come together united by a common cause.

“Research is the only way we have achieved improvements for women with gynaecological cancers,” she says. “It improves treatment options and lowers the side effects associated with treatments. It has improved the way we talk about cancers and their treatments, and what someone might experience or expect as a result of their cancer diagnosis. Most importantly of all, research results in fewer women being diagnosed with gynaecological cancers.”

Associate Professor Antill says it’s never been more important to support gynaecological cancer research than during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“We can't rely on government support for all our research, particularly right now, where the focus of funding is likely to be directed into managing the COVID crisis,” she says. “We need to look to other avenues to help continue to support our research, to prevent loss of opportunity in being able to improve the future for women and their families who are impacted by gynae cancers.”

Thanks to the collaborative work of the Uterine Tumour Working Group and gynaecological cancer researchers, that future is already looking much brighter.

Join the fight against uterine cancer by donating to Honour Her - all proceeds go to state-of-the-art gynaecological cancer research.