Types of gynecologic cancer:
- Cervical cancer - cancer cells grow on the surface or in the tissue of the cervix, which is located in the lower opening to the uterus (womb);
- Ovarian cancer – the most lethal of the gynecological cancers grows in one or both of the ovaries;
- Endometrial cancer – the most common form of gynecologic cancer begins in the cells that form the lining (endometrium) of the uterus. Endometrial cancer is also called uterine cancer;
- Vaginal cancer - cancer cells originate in the vagina. Vaginal cancer is not common;
- Vulvar cancer – cancer cells grow on the vulva, which is the outer part of the female reproductive system immediately adjacent to the opening of the vagina.
It is important to note that each gynecologic cancer is unique, with different signs, symptoms, risk factors, and prevention strategies. For all women the risk of developing gynecologic cancer increases with age. The best outcomes for women with gynecologic cancers are the results of early detection and treatment.
Current treatment options:
Treatment for gynecologic cancers depends on several factors, including the type of gynecologic cancer, its extent (stage), its location and the patient’s overall health. That being said, gynecologic cancers are treated by using one or more of the following: surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. If detected early, some cancers like cervical can often be halted with a simple surgical procedure.
Surgery is the primary treatment method for many tumors of the female reproductive system. For internal gynecologic cancers, surgery usually involves some kind of removal of the uterus and cervix, called a hysterectomy. Often the surgeon may remove lymph nodes as well to check for the spread of any cancer cells. For less common tumors like vulvar cancer, surgery is typically not inside the pelvis but may also involve the removal of lymph nodes.
Radiation therapy is the careful use of radiation to treat cancer safely and effectively. Radiation therapy works within cancer cells by damaging their ability to multiply. When these cells die, the body naturally eliminates them. While healthy tissues are also affected by radiation, they are capable of repairing themselves in a way that cancer cells cannot.
There are two types of radiation therapy: (1) external beam radiation therapy delivers treatment from a machine outside your body; and, (2) internal radiation therapy (or brachytherapy) delivers treatment using radioactive sources placed into the vagina, uterus and/or surrounding tissues to kill the cancer cells.
Radiation and surgery can be combined to help lower the risk of recurrence, but it varies based upon the disease and whether or not the cancer has spread. In cases where radiation is the main treatment, it is still important to keep the surgeon involved in follow-up in case surgical intervention is warranted.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both. The dose and schedule for treatment varies, but chemotherapy can be done either alone or with radiation therapy. Chemotherapy may be recommended to kill any remaining cancer cells following surgery, or to control cancer growth following either surgery or radiation, or to relieve symptoms.
COTI-2 - A potential breakthrough treatment for many cancers:
Our lead drug candidate, a small molecule called COTI-2, acts by normalizing the p53 protein function in cancer cells with mutation in the p53 gene. P53 mutations are common in gynecologic cancers with more than 95% of advanced ovarian cancers having this mutation. It appears that of all the ovarian cancer drugs in development at this time, COTI-2 offers the most exciting treatment opportunity. In fact, we believe that COTI-2 may represent a significant potential therapeutic advantage over treatments currently available for ovarian and other gynecologic cancers.