• Clinical trials

    As a major research institution, Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) is able to provide patients not only with outstanding care, but also with some of the most advanced therapies available.

    We base our treatments on the latest scientific findings, and many patients have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials of promising new treatments.

    See current open trials for patients with advanced or recurrent cervical cancer.

    See current open trials for patients with endometrial and uterine cancer.

    See current open trials for patients with gestational trophoblastic disease.

    See current open trials for patients with newly diagnosed and recurrent ovarian, peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancer.

    See current open trials for patients with vulvar cancer.

    Ongoing research

    Researchers in the Gynecologic Oncology Program are exploring gynecologic cancers from a wide variety of scientific angles – from discoveries about the genes that cause tumors to develop and grow, to investigations of new therapies, to studies of ways to prevent cancers from forming.

    Our physician-scientists are focused on the development of new treatments for specific subtypes of gynecologic cancers, including PARP inhibitors for BRCA-related high grade serous ovarian cancer. They are also delving deep into the genetic underpinnings of gynecologic cancers to find the mutations responsible for the disease.

    Read more about recent DF/BWCC research findings, based on cancer type:

    Cervical cancer research

    2013

    Learning from Tissue

    Using human tissue samples has helped researchers develop effective treatments for many breast and gynecologic cancers.

    2012

    Scientists find pathways that control cell growth in endometrial and cervical cancer

    Dana-Farber physician-scientists are studying the genetic mutations of cervical cancer to determine if there are common or different mutations across subtypes. So far, the team has discovered that 34 percent of the cancers they analyzed had mutations in the P13K pathway. They also found distinct mutations in squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas, suggesting different treatment approaches for each subtype.

    This is one of the largest groups of cervical cancer tumor samples studied to date, and the findings suggest that targeted therapies tailored to the tumor type, rather than more generalized approaches, may be more effective than existing therapies. P13K inhibitors are currently in clinical trials, mostly for endometrial cancer, but are now beginning in cervical cancer as well.

    2011

    Seeking genetic culprits in cervical cancer

    Using the powerful tools of genomic research, Alexi Wright, MD, has begun probing the relatively unknown cellular territory of cervical cancer, hunting for new opportunities to block the mutated gene pathways driving the cancer.

    Endometrial (uterine) cancer research

    2013

    Study shows promise of molecular screening for gynecologic cancers

    A new study that proposes a three-in-one test for gynecologic cancers underscores the promise of molecular screening for early detection of endometrial and ovarian cancers, but also suggests that such tests are not yet ready for clinical use, write the authors of a commentary in a 2013 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

    Learning from Tissue

    Using human tissue samples has helped researchers develop effective treatments for many breast and gynecologic cancers..

    2012

    Scientists find pathways that control cell growth in endometrial and cervical cancer

    Panagiotis Konstantinopoulos, MD, PhD, directs a clinical trial of drugs that target mutations driving the development of endometrial cancer. This multicenter phase II trial is examining genetic mutations that result in the activation of the P13K signaling pathway, which promotes uncontrolled cell growth powering tumor development. This study has discovered that a certain type of endometrial cancer, called serous, may be more susceptible to this type of therapy.

    2010

    DF/BWCC pioneers robot-assisted surgery for endometrial cancer

    This minimally invasive approach typically has offered powerful advantages over conventional open surgery, including far less bleeding, lowered risk of infection, and dramatically shorter patient recovery times.

    Ovarian cancer research

    2014

    A tale of two proteins (Turning Point)

    Investigators are working to better match therapies to the size and aggressiveness of HER2-positive breast tumors. They're studying treatments that attack such tumors with a two-in-one compound of antibody and chemotherapy. And they're probing HER3, a cousin of HER2 that holds promise as a target for ovarian cancer drugs. Together, this work is making the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancers — and potentially some ovarian cancers — not only more effective but also longer-lasting and less prone to side effects.

    Learning from 'smart' drugs (Turning Point)

    Over the past 15 years, smart drugs have gained a permanent place in the anti-cancer arsenal, as scientists have identified dozens of potential target genes and proteins and developed an expanding array of drugs capable of hitting those targets. Today, researchers and physicians at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers at Dana-Farber are pioneering work in laboratory discoveries, drug development, and clinical applications that have led to the advent of targeted therapies for breast and gynecologic cancers.

    2013

    New two-drug combination shows activity in ovarian cancer

    A novel pairing of two cancer drug types showed promising activity and had manageable toxicities, according to a first-of-its-kind clinical trial led by scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

    Searching for Similarities: Certain breast and ovarian cancers have genetic commonalities

    Researchers at Dana-Farber look at the ways certain breast and ovarian cancers have similar gene mutations and shared treatments.

    Human Tissue Research: Getting at the roots of women's cancer

    Tissue samples donated by patients are among medical researchers' most precious resources.

    Learning from Tissue

    Using human tissue samples has helped researchers develop effective treatments for many breast and gynecologic cancers.

    Study shows promise of screening for gynecologic cancers

    A new study that proposes a three-in-one test for gynecologic cancers underscores the promise of molecular screening for early detection of endometrial and ovarian cancers, but also suggests that such tests are not yet ready for clinical use, wrote the authors of a commentary in a 2013 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

    2012

    Researchers identify three subtypes of high-grade serous ovarian cancer

    New research led by Dana-Farber scientists may soon enable doctors to determine which patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) – the most common cancer of the ovary – are most likely to benefit from a certain class of drugs.

    "Our findings suggest that, for the first time, we can determine which patients have the best chance of responding to specific categories of drugs for high-grade serous ovarian cancer," said Ursula Matulonis, MD, one of the senior authors of the study, which has been published online by the journal Clinical Cancer Research. "For this disease, one of the most difficult to treat of all gynecologic cancers, the study is an important step forward."

    Anti-angiogenesis drugs may work in new ovarian cancer subtype

    Dana-Farber scientists have identified a new subtype of ovarian cancer able to grow its own blood vessels, suggesting that such tumors might be especially susceptible to "anti-angiogenic" drugs that block blood vessel formation.

    In a study published in 2012, investigators estimate the subtype may account for a third of all serous ovarian cancers, a common cancer of the surface of the ovaries. The discovery may spur clinical trials to see if patients with the subtype can benefit from anti-angiogenic therapies now being tested in other cancers.

    2011

    PARP inhibitors on trial

    It has been known for some time that women with mutations in their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have an increased likelihood of developing ovarian and breast cancer. Phase 1 and Phase II clinical trials are underway at Dana-Farber using new drugs called PARP inhibitors on ovarian cancer patients. Ursula Matulonis, MD, says that for some women with high-grade serous tumors and BRCA mutations, the response rates have been higher than would be expected from traditional chemotherapy. She says this is "very encouraging," and the PARP inhibitors are now being tested on patients with high-grade serous tumors who do not have BRCA mutations in the hopes of similar results.

    New scientific model tracks high grade serous ovarian cancer to origins in fallopian tube

    High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC), the fifth-deadliest cancer among American women, is thought by many scientists to often be a fallopian tube malignancy masquerading as an ovarian one. While most of the evidence linking HGSOC to the fallopian tubes has so far been only circumstantial, a new Dana-Farber Cancer Institute study suggests there is a direct connection, a finding that could aid in the development of better treatments for the cancer.

    Blocking the path to cancer growth

    HER2 is overexpressed in a very small number of ovarian cancers but its genetic cousin, HER3, has been estimated to be abnormal in 25 to 30 percent of ovarian tumors. Building on promising results in studies, Joyce Liu, MD, MPH, is working to test the effectiveness of a new HER3-inhibitor.

    Vulvar cancer research

    2013

    Lung cancer drug shows promise against vulvar cancer

    Tarceva, a targeted therapy used to treat some types of non-small cell lung cancers, is showing promise in treating vulvar cancer in a recent Dana-Farber clinical trial.

    Published research

    Also see a list of selected published reports and abstracts by our clinician-researchers.