Endometrial cancer

Curr Probl Cancer. 1997 Mar-Apr;21(2):65-127. doi: 10.1016/s0147-0272(97)80002-5.


Carcinoma of the uterine corpus (endometrial cancer) remains the gynecologic malignant disease with the highest annual prevalence in the United States. The most common histologic type is adenocarcinoma, although more aggressive variants (e.g., papillary serous carcinoma and clear cell carcinoma) have been identified. Risk factors that are strongly associated with the development of endometrial cancer include tamoxifen therapy, obesity, and stimulation from unopposed estrogen (from exogenous sources or endogenously secreting ovarian tumors). The current staging system of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics is based on surgical-pathologic findings. Survival has been directly correlated with tumor stage in this staging system. The cornerstone of therapy is total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Pelvic and para-aortic lymphadenectomy may provide additional prognostic information but probably does not confer a therapeutic advantage. Moreover, such nodal dissections predispose to the development of complications, especially in women who subsequently receive pelvic irradiation. Other than surgical treatment, irradiation is the single most active therapy for endometrial carcinoma. In fact, some women who are not candidates for hysterectomy because of medical contra-indications can be cured with radiation alone. Adjuvant therapy following hysterectomy is based on patient- and tumor-related features that provided prognostic information for incidence and pattern of recurrence. Adjuvant treatment usually includes pelvic irradiation for selected patients. Current investigational strategies are directed at the role of whole-abdomen irradiation, extended-field irradiation, and systemic chemotherapy. The most active systemic agents include cisplatin, doxorubicin, paclitaxel, and progestins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Endometrial Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Endometrial Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Endometrial Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Progestins / therapeutic use
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Progestins