The Women's Cancer Program of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center is advancing the understanding of breast cancer and gynecologic cancers and improving treatment strategies for these cancers. The Women's Cancer Program conducts research on all three Mayo Clinic campuses — in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Rochester, Minn.


Investigators in the Women's Cancer Program focus on four main areas of research:

  • Identifying key genetic alterations underlying women's cancers. This group of researchers is making significant advances in genomics. Examples include the development of a risk assessment for carriers of variants of uncertain significance (VUS) in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer predisposition genes.

    Investigators have also evaluated the pharmacogenomics of endocrine therapies for breast cancer and identified fusion transcripts specific to breast cancer subtypes. They are exploring the inherited variations and the epigenetic regulation of gene expression related to ovarian cancer risk and outcomes after ovarian cancer diagnosis.

    The Women's Cancer Program has also made many contributions for breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer to the Cancer Genome Atlas, a National Institutes of Health project to further scientific understanding of cancer and create a comprehensive atlas of the genomic changes involved in cancer.

  • Defining key cellular systems and pathways in the biology of women's cancers. Examples of research in this area include the relevance of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors for ovarian cancer, metformin as a chemosensitizer for ovarian cancer, immunotherapy for breast and ovarian cancers, and the IGFR pathway in breast and ovarian cancers.
  • Improving identification of women at increased risk of breast cancer and gynecologic cancers. Investigators in this group have identified lobular involution as a risk factor for developing breast cancer. They have also identified nodal as a new biomarker in breast cancer and are researching methods to detect endometrial cancer in its earliest stages.
  • Developing and testing innovative treatment strategies for women's cancers. Investigators are exploring a range of new clinical strategies for treating breast and gynecologic cancers. Examples include research on HER2 positive breast cancer therapies; molecular breast imaging, a gamma camera-based imaging tool to detect tumors in women with dense breasts; novel virotherapies for ovarian cancer; advances in the surgical management of ovarian cancer; and quality improvements in gynecologic surgery.


The Women's Cancer Program has two co-leaders: