Endometrial cancer is the most common gynaecological cancer in Australia, with an estimated 2200 women diagnosed each year. Obesity is a proven risk factor for endometrial cancer. The obesity epidemic has seen its incidence rise by 1% each year in women under 40. This type of cancer is currently under-researched.

The current standard treatment includes a total hysterectomy. While highly effective, there are side effects involved for:

  • women with severe medical co-morbidities and/or morbid obesity who are at risk for surgical complications and for whom surgery is unsafe. Comorbidity is the presence of one or more additional disorders (or diseases) co-occurring with endometrial cancer
  • young women who still wish to have children and would lose their fertility by having a hysterectomy.

feMMe aims to treat women with endometrial cancer less-invasively through the use of the Mirena, an intra-uterine device. This is the same device that is commonly used as a contraceptive (the IUD).

Metformin is the most widely used anti-diabetes drug in the world and evidence suggests it is also a powerful anti-cancer drug.  feMMe aims to treat endometrial cancer by loading the Mirena with Metformin; this treats cancer from inside the uterus. This is a far less invasive treatment than a radical hysterectomy, and allows at-risk women to avoid the complications and side effects associated with surgery. It also allows women to retain their reproductive organs.

The causal link between endometrial cancer and obesity is undeniable. Weight loss interventions are feasible and safe and are already being implemented by gynaecological oncologists to make women eligible for surgery.

We will enrol 165 patients with early endometrial cancer (or endometrial hyperplasia with atypia) who are either a) young and wish to retain fertility or b) are unsuitable for surgery due to medical co-morbidities.

This study targets a steadily increasing population of morbidly obese, young or co-morbid patients with early endometrial cancer. The gains of a successful project will include the reduction of hospital bed days, radical surgery, surgical complications and their associated costs. It will allow an increasing number of women to maintain their fertility and have children.

This study is not a research priority by the pharmaceutical industry and will not be funded by them.

Investigators interested in being involved can email trudi.cattley@health.qld,gov.au