Endometrioid carcinoma of the uterine corpus: a review of its pathology with emphasis on recent advances and problematic aspects

Adv Anat Pathol. 2002 May;9(3):145-84. doi: 10.1097/00125480-200205000-00001.


This review considers the pathologic features of endometrioid carcinoma of the uterine corpus, which accounts for approximately 80% of endometrial adenocarcinomas, with an emphasis on its histologic features, recent advances, and problematic aspects. In addition to typical endometrioid carcinoma, the variants of endometrioid carcinoma covered include secretory carcinoma, villoglandular endometrioid carcinoma, endometrioid carcinoma with small nonvillous papillae, endometrioid carcinomas with microglandular and sertoliform patterns, and endometrioid carcinomas with metaplastic changes. These changes include a variety of different appearances of squamous epithelia (ranging from mature and keratinizing to immature with only subtle evidence of a squamous nature), clear cells, surface changes resembling syncytial metaplasia or microglandular hyperplasia, ciliated cells, oxyphilic cells, and spindled epithelial cells (sarcomatoid carcinoma). The last is one of several variants that may cause a biphasic appearance, all of which should be distinguished from the malignant müllerian mixed tumor. Rare findings in endometrioid carcinomas include hyalinization, psammoma bodies, and foci of stromal metaplasia such as osteoid. Unusual growth patterns of endometrioid carcinomas include involvement of adenomyosis, the "diffusely" infiltrating pattern of myoinvasion, and a previously unemphasized pattern of myoinvasion with "pinched off" glands that may be cystic or have a pseudovascular appearance, often with a myxoid stromal reaction. Other aspects of endometrioid carcinoma discussed are its immunoprofile, grading, cervical involvement (including a hitherto undescribed "burrowing" pattern of extension within the cervix that can result in underdiagnosis of stage IIB disease), carcinoma arising in the lower uterine segment, carcinoma arising in polyps and adenomyomas, carcinoma in young women, tamoxifen-related carcinoma, associated ovarian endometrioid carcinoma, and peritoneal keratin granulomas. Finally, the differential diagnosis of endometrioid carcinoma is briefly considered with a section on benign mimics, including curettage-related changes, menstrual changes, adenomyosis-related problems, metaplastic changes, atypical polypoid adenomyoma, radiation atypia, and papillary proliferations, and a section on metastatic colonic carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / classification
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Endometrium / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Uterine Neoplasms / classification
  • Uterine Neoplasms / pathology*