Molecular characterization of endometrial cancer and therapeutic implications

Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Feb;32(1):76-83. doi: 10.1097/GCO.0000000000000602.


Purpose of review: The present article reviews molecular subtyping and genomic characterization of endometrial carcinoma, and the associated therapeutic and prognostic implications.

Recent findings: Endometrial cancer has historically been classified through histology into endometrioid and nonendometrioid subtypes with poor prognostic predictability. Molecular classification through genomic analysis now allows for a major advance in characterization. Four distinct subgroups have been identified: polymerase (POLE) ultramutated, microsatellite unstable, copy number-low--microsatellite stable, and copy number-high-'serous-like'. These subtypes have prognostic implications and may aid in the identification of early-stage patients who are at high risk for recurrence. Through analysis of surrogate markers (POLE, MSI, and p53) and other validated molecular alterations (L1CAM), it is possible to obtain an integrated molecular risk profile that relates to prognosis. Studies utilizing this risk profile in order to identify patients who may benefit from adjuvant treatment for early-stage disease are on-going.

Summary: Molecular characterization of endometrial cancer into subgroups has enhanced prognostic and therapeutic implications, contrary to traditional risk stratification. Further development of an integrated molecular risk profile may identify patients who could most benefit from adjuvant treatment following surgery and tailor treatment decisions in the recurrent setting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA Copy Number Variations
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Microsatellite Instability
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / genetics
  • Risk Assessment / methods


  • Biomarkers, Tumor