Background: Besides the well-known association between endometrial carcinoma (EC) and unopposed estrogen, androgens also may play a role in this respect; however, previous studies on endogenous estrogens and androgens in patients with EC and control subjects have yielded mostly divergent results, probably because of the use of poorly defined control groups.
Methods: Circulating steroid and pituitary hormones and sex hormone-binding globulin were measured in patients with EC and matched control groups of either patients with nonmalignant postmenopausal bleeding (hospital control subjects) and healthy, symptom-free women (nonhospital control subjects).
Results: Patients with EC had higher serum levels of adrenal C21 and C19 steroids, estrogens, and biologically active testosterone than nonhospital control subjects, whereas the hospital control subjects constituted an intermediate group in this respect.
Conclusions: The results clearly indicate an altered steroid homeostasis, probably reflecting an increased "adrenal drive" in patients with EC. The results also stress the necessity of using strictly defined, healthy, symptom-free control subjects instead of the frequently used hospital control subjects when studying more subtile endocrine aberrations.