MRI in uterine cancers with uncertain origin: Endometrial or cervical? Radiological point of view with review of the literature

Eur J Radiol. 2022 Aug:153:110357. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2022.110357. Epub 2022 May 13.


Therapeutic options and clinical management of cervical and endometrial cancers differs significantly. When clinical and histological analysis of a uterine mass are unable to differentiate between an endocervical or endometrial origin, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) plays a pivotal role in discriminating the anatomical origin, supporting the clinician in the treatment planning. Cervical adenocarcinomas are more likely to be centered in the cervical region and involving both cervical canal and stromal ring, with possible parametrial invasion. Endometrial adenocarcinomas usually present an elongated morphology and are centered in the endometrial cavity predominantly involving endometrium and myometrium. On contrast-enhanced sequences, cervical cancers are more frequently hypervascular compared to endometrial cancers. In cases of uncertain findings, diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) can provide additional helpful information with significantly higher apparent coefficient diffusion (ADC) values in cervical adenocarcinomas compared to endometrial adenocarcinomas. However, even when MRI cannot precisely reveal the origin of the tumor, it provides valuable information on several prognostic factors that can help treatment planning.

Keywords: Cervical cancer; Endometrial cancer; Gynaecological cancer; MRI; Uterine mass.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma* / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenocarcinoma* / pathology
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Endometrial Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Endometrial Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Endometrium / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Uterine Neoplasms* / pathology