Efficacy of oral or intrauterine device-delivered progestin in patients with complex endometrial hyperplasia with atypia or early endometrial adenocarcinoma: a meta-analysis and systematic review of the literature

Gynecol Oncol. 2012 Apr;125(1):263-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2011.11.043. Epub 2011 Dec 3.


Objectives: To investigate the efficacy of progestin treatment to achieve pathological complete response (pCR) in patients with complex atypical endometrial hyperplasia (CAH) or early endometrial adenocarcinoma (EC).

Methods: A systematic search identified 3245 potentially relevant citations. Studies containing less than ten eligible CAH or EC patients in either oral or intrauterine treatment arm were excluded. Only information from patients receiving six or more months of treatment and not receiving other treatments was included. Weighted proportions of patients achieving pCR were calculated using R software.

Results: Twelve studies met the selection criteria. Eleven studies reported treatment of patients with oral (219 patients, 117 with CAH, 102 with grade 1 Stage I EC) and one reported treatment of patients with intrauterine progestin (11 patients with grade 1 Stage IEC). Overall, 74% (95% confidence interval [CI] 65-81%) of patients with CAH and 72% (95% CI 62-80%) of patients with grade 1 Stage I EC achieved a pCR to oral progestin. Disease progression whilst on oral treatment was reported for 6/219 (2.7%), and relapse after initial complete response for 32/159 (20.1%) patients. The weighted mean pCR rate of patients with grade 1 Stage I EC treated with intrauterine progestin from one prospective pilot study and an unpublished retrospective case series from the Queensland Centre of Gynaecologic Oncology (QCGC) was 68% (95% CI 45-86%).

Conclusions: There is a lack of high quality evidence for the efficacy of progestin in CAH or EC. The available evidence however suggests that treatment with oral or intrauterine progestin is similarly effective. The risk of progression during treatment is small but longer follow-up is required. Evidence from prospective controlled clinical trials is warranted to establish how the efficacy of progestin for the treatment of CAH and EC can be improved further.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Endometrial Hyperplasia / drug therapy*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Devices, Medicated
  • Progestins / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Progestins