AS748 - Circulating immune checkpoint proteins and the early detection of gynecologic cancers

Investigator Names and Contact Information

Kara Michels (


Endometrial cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the United States. Mortality rates for endometrial cancer are rising. Many women diagnosed with this cancer will have advanced, late stage disease. Additionally, women in the U.S. are increasingly being diagnosed with types of endometrial cancer that are difficult to treat. We need to identify new ways to detect these cancers earlier, when they may respond better to treatments. Many cancer cells, including those from endometrial tumors, make proteins that send signals to our immune system; these signals typically prevent our immune system from attacking and killing the tumor cells. The proteins that send these immune signals can be measured in blood and may be useful for identifying people with early stage cancers. Several studies report that people with cancer have different levels of immune-related proteins in their blood, compared to people without cancer. Most of these studies measured only one protein at a time, but we know there are many proteins that tumors use to control our immune system. Additionally, none of these studies determined if the unique protein levels found in blood samples from people with cancer can be measured in blood samples that were collected several years before their cancer diagnosis. To determine if measuring immune-related proteins in blood is useful for early endometrial cancer detection, we will use data from a research study that collected blood samples from postmenopausal women. Some of these women later developed endometrial cancer and some did not. Our research will determine if blood levels of eight immune-related proteins differ between the women who developed endometrial cancer and those who did not. We will also look at whether the differences in protein levels are greater for women who had their blood samples collected immediately before their endometrial cancer diagnosis, or for those who were diagnosed years after their blood was collected. If we can detect differences in blood protein levels between women with and without cancer, even when blood samples are collected several years before any cancer diagnosis, measuring these proteins may help us diagnose endometrial cancers earlier, treat them sooner, and save lives.