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TCGA's Study of Uterine Carcinosarcoma

What is uterine carcinosarcoma?

Uterine carcinosarcoma (USC) is a cancer that develops in the uterus. Carcinosarcoma signifies that, when looked at under a microscope, the tumor displays histological features of both endometrial carcinoma and sarcoma.1 Endometrial carcinoma starts in the endometrium, the inner layer of tissue lining the uterus, while sarcoma begins in the outer layer of muscle of the uterus.1

A rare cancer, USC makes up less than 5% of all uterine cancers.2 In the U.S., about two per 100,000 women develop USC annually.3 Roughly only 35% of patients survive five years after diagnosis. Additional information on uterine cancer.

USC was part of TCGA's effort to characterize rare tumor types.

What have TCGA researchers learned about uterine carcinosarcoma?

  • UCSs resemble both carcinomas (cancers derived from epithelial cells) and sarcomas (cancers derived from mesenchymal cells) on a molecular level:
    • USCs had the largest variation of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) scores, related to the ability of cancers to metastasize, among all cancer types studied by TCGA
  • Numerous altered genes serve as potential therapeutic targets:
    • Almost all (91%) UCS tumors studied contained mutations in TP5
    • Half of the tumors had altered genes in the PI3K pathway, which contains several known drug targets
    • More than a fifth of the tumors studied contained altered genes that regulate cell cycle

TCGA's study of uterine carcinosarcoma

TCGA Research Network publications

Find NCI-supported endometrial cancer clinical trials


Selected References 

1American Cancer Society. Endometrial (uterine) cancer. American Cancer Society. www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003048-pdf. Accessed 2012.

2Galaal K, van der Heijden E, Godfrey K, Naik R, Kucukmetin A, Bryant A, Das N, Lopes AD. Adjuvant radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy after surgery for uterine carcinosarcoma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Feb;(2):CD006812.

3Kernochan LE, Garcia RL. Carcinosarcomas (malignant mixed Müllerian tumor) of the uterus: advances in elucidation of biologic and clinical characteristics. J Natl Compr Canc Netw2009 May;7(5):550-6.

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