Womens Cancers DOT

The WDOT is a way to bring together researchers who study cancers predominantly or exclusively found in women (breast, ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancers). Members come from many different disciplines of science and medicine: basic scientists studying how cells become cancer; geneticists studying how genetic changes in DNA increase cancer risk and how those genetic changes are inherited in families; translational scientists developing clinical tools to better treat patients; clinicians investigating new drugs and protocols to improve patient care; epidemiologists exploring cancer risk in whole populations of people; and behavioral scientists studying communication and quality of life. Together members develop joint projects to improve understanding and management of women’s cancers. These joint research efforts are supported by centralized infrastructure, such as databases, tissue collection, and financial support to pilot new multiple-investigator projects.

Overview of Projects

The WDOT has several projects ongoing. Here, we highlight three projects, although our group includes a broad spectrum of research. 1) The ‘Genetics’ working group is developing genetic tests that examine a panel of genes to determine risk for breast and gynecological cancers; and to establish whether patterns of changes in these genes indicate differences in types of cancer that may develop. Many genes are inspected for inherited genetic changes which are associated with changes in the normal tissue and, ultimately, in the tumor tissue. The ultimate goal of this group is better and earlier detection of at-risk individuals. 2) The ‘Clinical Research’ group is undertaking multiple clinical trials to try to identifying novel drug regimens that will improve patient outcomes. This group also tracks the changes in genes that occur as tumors progress and become resistant to treatment. The goal of this research is to provide optimal drug treatment options for each patient, and to modify treatments as tumors evolve and progress. 3) Finally, the ‘Biomarkers’ team is using new genomic technologies to try to detect cancer early, to better characterize how a tumor is likely to behave, and to match each patient to a drug that effectively targets their specific tumor.  The goals of this group are to use genomic tools to improve diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients.