In 2022, more than 1800 Australian women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, including ovarian carcinosarcoma. Survival rates for ovarian cancer have not improved in over three decades, with one Australian woman dying from the disease every eight hours.
Uterine cancer was the fifth most diagnosed cancer in Australian females in 2022.
Uterine carcinosarcoma, while three times more common than ovarian carcinosarcoma, is still classified as a rare cancer.
These diseases often present with no symptoms, meaning most women are diagnosed at an advanced stage – significantly limiting their treatment options.
The EPOCH (Eribulin and Pembrolizumab in Tubo-Ovarian and Uterine Carcinosarcoma) trial aims to reverse these dire outcomes by testing a new combination therapy. The study is funded by ANZGOG (Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group) and developed via the International Gynecologic Cancer InterGroup.
Professor Clare Scott AM, Principal Investigator of the EPOCH trial and Chair of ANZGOG, said the trial could provide real hope for women with rare cancers.
“When a disease is rare, it means the research into it is much more challenging, halting the discovery of new treatments,” Prof Scott, also a Joint Division Head at WEHI’s Clinical Translation Division, said.
“Ovarian carcinosarcoma is currently treated with the same drugs used for the more common ovarian cancers, but these tumours generally respond poorly to standard-of-care treatments.
“This is proof that blanket approaches aren’t viable when it comes to rare cancers and that new treatments are desperately needed.
“That is why it is incredibly exciting to see our research, spanning over seven years, now translated into a clinical trial that could potentially help women living with rare diseases, like ovarian and uterine carcinosarcomas.”