Surveillance for endometrial cancer in hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer syndrome

Int J Cancer. 2007 Feb 15;120(4):821-4. doi: 10.1002/ijc.22446.


The estimated lifetime risk for endometrial carcinoma (EC) in hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer syndrome (HNPCC) is 32-60%, thus supporting surveillance. The survival rate of EC patients is, however, favourable questioning the need for surveillance. Yet, the effectiveness of gynecological surveillance remains to be shown. The 2 previously published studies were based on transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) alone. Intrauterine biopsy has not been tested in surveillance for EC in HNPCC families. The effect of gynecological surveillance was evaluated among 175 Finnish mutation carriers. During 759 person years at risk, there were 503 surveillance visits including TVUS and intrauterine biopsy of endometrium at 94% and 74% of the visits, respectively. EC occurred in 14 cases, 11 of which were diagnosed by surveillance, 8 by intrauterine biopsies. TVUS indicated only 4 EC patients but missed 6 other cases. Intrauterine sampling detected 14 additional cases of potentially premalignant hyperplasia. The stage distribution and survival tended to be more favorable in the 14 EC cases of the surveilled group (no deaths) than in the group of 83 symptomatic mutation carriers of whom 6 died of EC, but with no statistical significance. Four cases of ovarian cancer occurred but none was detected by surveillance in TVUS examinations. In conclusion, EC surveillance in HNPCC seems more effective with endometrial biopsies than with TVUS alone. A definite improvement in survival remains to be shown. The detection of early cancer stages and premalignant lesions offers the opportunity to avoid extensive adjuvant treatment.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / genetics*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Endosonography
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pelvis / diagnostic imaging
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors