Gynaecological cancer research

Cancers that originate in a woman's reproductive system are known as gynaecological cancers. The most common types of gynaecological cancers are ovarian, cervical and endometrial.

We have clinical trials in all of these areas.

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is when abnormal cells in the ovary begin to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way, and eventually form a growth (tumour).

If not caught early cancer cells gradually grow into the surrounding tissues and may spread to other areas of the body.

There are different types of ovarian cancer. The type depends on the type of cell the cancer started in.

Most cases of ovarian cancer are epithelial cancers. This means the cancer started in cells covering the ovary or fallopian tubes.

The main treatment options for ovarian cancer are surgery and chemotherapy. CCC are also running Clinical Trials investigating PARP-1 inhibitors which are drugs that block proteins that help cells repair their DNA.

We can now test for 3 gene faults involved in ovarian cancer. If you have breast cancer and ovarian cancer in your family, it may be that people in your family are carrying a fault in one of the cancer genes BRCA1 or BRCA2. If you have one of these gene faults, you have an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Endometrial cancer

Around 9,300 women are diagnosed with endometrial cancer in the UK each year. This makes it the 4th most common cancer in women in the UK. Most women diagnosed with cancer of the womb have had their menopause. Almost three quarters of cases of womb cancer are in women aged 40 to 74.

Doctors sometimes divide endometrial cancers into 2 types.

Type 1 cancers are the most common type. They are usually endometrioid adenocarcinomas, and are linked to excess oestrogen in the body. They are generally slow growing and less likely to spread.

Type 2 cancers include uterine serous carcinomas and clear cell carcinomas. These cancers are not linked to excess oestrogen. They are generally faster growing and more likely to spread.

The main treatment for early stage endometrial cancer is surgery. Generally, this involves a hysterectomy. After surgery, if there is a high risk of the cancer returning you may have: radiotherapy, chemotherapy or a combination of both (chemoradiotherapy).

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way. The cervix is the lower part of the womb. It is the opening to the vagina from the womb. The main symptom is unusual bleeding from the vagina. Finding changes in the cells through screening can help to prevent cancer developing.

Around 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year. That’s around 9 cases diagnosed every day. Cervical cancer is more common in younger women. More than half of the cervical cancer cases in the UK each year are diagnosed in women under the age of 45.

The main cause of cervical cancer is long lasting (persistent) infection of certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a common virus, and in most cases your immune system clears the infection without any problems.

Surgery is the usual treatment for early stage cervical cancer. Clinical trials at CCC are investigating different ways of giving chemotherapy before chemoradiation vs chemoradiation alone in cervical cancer patients.

Find out more about gynaecological cancer research at