Endometrial Tumor Classification by Histomorphology and Biomarkers in the Nurses' Health Study

J Cancer Epidemiol. 2021 Mar 12;2021:8884364. doi: 10.1155/2021/8884364. eCollection 2021.


Objective: Endometrial cancers have historically been classified by histomorphologic appearance, which is subject to interobserver disagreement. As molecular and biomarker testing has become increasingly available, the prognostic significance and accuracy of histomorphologic diagnoses have been questioned. To address these issues for a large, prospective cohort study, we provide the results of a centralized pathology review and biomarker analysis of all incidental endometrial carcinomas occurring between 1976 and 2012 in the Nurses' Health Study.

Methods: Routine histology of all (n = 360) cases was reviewed for histomorphologic diagnosis. Cases were subsequently planted in a tissue microarray to explore expression of a variety of biomarkers (e.g., ER, PR, p53, PTEN, PAX2, AMACR, HNF1β, Napsin A, p16, PAX8, and GATA3).

Results: Histologic subtypes included endometrioid (87.2%), serous (5.6%), carcinosarcoma (3.9%), clear cell (1.7%), and mixed type (1.7%). Biomarker results within histologic subtypes were consistent with existing literature: abnormal p53 was frequent in serous cases (74%), and HNF1β (67%), Napsin A (67%), and AMACR (83%) expression was frequent in clear cell carcinomas. Our dataset also allowed for examination of biomarker expression across non-preselected histologies. The results demonstrated that (1) HNF1β was not specific for clear cell carcinoma, (2) TP53 mutations occurred across many histologies, and (3) GATA3 was expressed across multiple histotypes, with 75% of positive cases demonstrating high-grade features.

Conclusions: Our findings establish the subtypes of endometrial cancer occurring in the Nurses' Health Study, corroborate the sensitivity of certain well-established biomarkers, and call into question previously identified associations between certain biomarkers (e.g., HNF1B) and particular histotypes.