Research projects

What’s the risk? Predicting endometrial cancer using genetics and measures of obesity

Researcher
Dr Tracy O’Mara
Project period
March 2022 - March 2024
Country
Research Institute
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Cancer types
Endometrial cancer
Award amount
£179,046
Co-funded

Project aim

Dr Tracy O’Mara and her team are trying to understand how obesity increases the risk of developing endometrial cancer. They hope to create a risk scoring system for endometrial cancer and explore how helping reduce risk factors like obesity could have an effect.

Hope for the future

Endometrial cancer is usually diagnosed early and treated successfully, however cases have been increasing in many western countries. This may be because age and obesity are the most important risk factors for endometrial cancer, and many of these countries have an aging population and growing obesity problem. However, we don’t currently understand exactly how obesity increases the risk of developing endometrial cancer.

 

scientists hands pipetting in a cell culture hood

Meet the scientist

Dr Tracy O’Mara enjoyed learning about chemistry and physics in high school, but it took a brief step away from science at university to help her realise that life sciences were the right path for her. Dr O’Mara is also a busy mum of four! In her free time, she enjoys movies, good food, art, books, and theatre.

The science

Endometrial cancer is often caught early and can be successfully treated, however some treatments can have life-long effects on health and fertility. If we could identify people who are more risk of developing endometrial cancer, targeting preventative treatments for risk factors such as obesity in those patients could be an effective way to prevent many cases of endometrial cancer.

Dr Tracy O’Mara and her team are developing a new way to predict which patients are at a higher risk of developing endometrial cancer. The researchers are currently running the world’s largest genetic study of endometrial cancer and have found several genetic risk factors for endometrial cancer. They are now combining this information with measures of other obesity-related risks, such as BMI and waist-hip ratio, to look for links between obesity and endometrial cancer and use this to predict the risk of developing endometrial cancer.

The researchers also hope to predict the benefits of personalised preventative treatments, such as weight loss surgery, and see how much treatments like these could benefit patients with a high genetic risk for endometrial cancer. In the future, Dr O’Mara and her team hope that they will uncover new knowledge about how obesity increases the risk of endometrial cancer, and that their new risk scoring system could help find people at high risk to prevent the disease ever developing.

This project is 50% co-funded with Cancer Australia.

There is so much amazing research with incredible potential that would not happen without funding from people like you. You’re making a real difference and we really appreciate everything you have done.
Dr Tracy O’Mara

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