Estrogen Signaling in Endometrial Cancer: a Key Oncogenic Pathway with Several Open Questions

Horm Cancer. 2019 Jun;10(2-3):51-63. doi: 10.1007/s12672-019-0358-9. Epub 2019 Feb 2.


Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecological cancer in the developed world, and it is one of the few cancer types that is becoming more prevalent and leading to more deaths in the USA each year. The majority of endometrial tumors are considered to be hormonally driven, where estrogen signaling through estrogen receptor α (ER) acts as an oncogenic signal. The major risk factors and some treatment options for endometrial cancer patients emphasize a key role for estrogen signaling in the disease. Despite the strong connections between estrogen signaling and endometrial cancer, important molecular aspects of ER function remain poorly understood; however, progress is being made in our understanding of estrogen signaling in endometrial cancer. Here, we discuss the evidence for the importance of estrogen signaling in endometrial cancer, details of the endometrial cancer-specific actions of ER, and open questions surrounding estrogen signaling in endometrial cancer.

Keywords: Endometrial cancer; Estrogen receptor alpha; Estrogen signaling; Gene regulation; Progesterone signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endometrial Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Progesterone / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Steroids / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • ESR1 protein, human
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogens
  • Steroids
  • Progesterone