A clinically applicable molecular-based classification for endometrial cancers

Br J Cancer. 2015 Jul 14;113(2):299-310. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2015.190. Epub 2015 Jun 30.


Background: Classification of endometrial carcinomas (ECs) by morphologic features is inconsistent, and yields limited prognostic and predictive information. A new system for classification based on the molecular categories identified in The Cancer Genome Atlas is proposed.

Methods: Genomic data from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) support classification of endometrial carcinomas into four prognostically significant subgroups; we used the TCGA data set to develop surrogate assays that could replicate the TCGA classification, but without the need for the labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive genomic methodology. Combinations of the most relevant assays were carried forward and tested on a new independent cohort of 152 endometrial carcinoma cases, and molecular vs clinical risk group stratification was compared.

Results: Replication of TCGA survival curves was achieved with statistical significance using multiple different molecular classification models (16 total tested). Internal validation supported carrying forward a classifier based on the following components: mismatch repair protein immunohistochemistry, POLE mutational analysis and p53 immunohistochemistry as a surrogate for 'copy-number' status. The proposed molecular classifier was associated with clinical outcomes, as was stage, grade, lymph-vascular space invasion, nodal involvement and adjuvant treatment. In multivariable analysis both molecular classification and clinical risk groups were associated with outcomes, but differed greatly in composition of cases within each category, with half of POLE and mismatch repair loss subgroups residing within the clinically defined 'high-risk' group. Combining the molecular classifier with clinicopathologic features or risk groups provided the highest C-index for discrimination of outcome survival curves.

Conclusions: Molecular classification of ECs can be achieved using clinically applicable methods on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples, and provides independent prognostic information beyond established risk factors. This pragmatic molecular classification tool has potential to be used routinely in guiding treatment for individuals with endometrial carcinoma and in stratifying cases in future clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • DNA Polymerase II / genetics
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / classification*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / mortality
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Genes, p53
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics
  • Poly-ADP-Ribose Binding Proteins
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Poly-ADP-Ribose Binding Proteins
  • DNA Polymerase II
  • POLE protein, human
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human