Comparison of endometrial changes among symptomatic tamoxifen-treated and nontreated premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer patients

Gynecol Oncol. 1997 Aug;66(2):233-7. doi: 10.1006/gyno.1997.4739.


Breast cancer patients who received tamoxifen as adjuvant therapy have been reported to have more endometrial lesions such as polyps, hyperplasia, or carcinoma. We conducted a prospective study to elucidate the endometrial changes of premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer patients with tamoxifen. Sixty-seven symptomatic breast cancer patients who had been on tamoxifen treatment, including 34 premenopausal and 33 postmenopausal patients, and another group of 48 patients who had not been on tamoxifen, including 25 premenopausal and 23 postmenopausal patients, were recruited. Symptomatic patients were defined as having hypermenorrhea or abnormal vaginal bleeding among premenopausal patients or postmenopausal bleeding among postmenopausal patients. Endometrial thickness and uterine size determined by vaginal ultrasonography, histologic findings, and risk factors for endometrial cancer were compared. The mean endometrial thickness and uterine size showed no statistically significant difference in premenopausal patients with (n = 34) or without (n = 25) tamoxifen treatment, whereas there was a significant difference in the postmenopausal patients with (n = 33) or without (n = 23) tamoxifen treatment (12.11 +/- 12.38 mm vs 5.41 +/- 2.70 mm, P = 0.025; 234.71 +/- 76.36 cm3 vs 108.81 +/- 81.27 cm3, P = 0.0018, respectively). The frequency of endometrial histopathologic findings was 23.5% (8/34) in tamoxifen-treated women compared with 12.0% (3/25) in nontreated women (P = 0.269) in the premenopausal groups. In contrast, it was remarkably high with 66.7% (22/33) in tamoxifen-treated women compared with 30.4% (7/23) in the nontreated women in the postmenopausal groups (P = 0.025). There were four postmenopausal patients with tamoxifen, including three with atypical endometrial hyperplasia and one endometrial carcinoma, in contrast to no postmenopausal nontreated patients, although this difference did not reach statistical significance in this study (P = 0.096). There was a remarkably high prevalence of endometrial histopathologic findings in symptomatic tamoxifen-treated breast cancer patients, especially postmenopausal women. Tamoxifen might be associated with premalignant or malignant changes in postmenopausal endometrium. Thus timely, aggressive histologic assessment such as curettage or hysteroscope should be performed to detect the endometrial lesions when symptoms occur. Vaginal ultrasonography could be a useful tool to detect the endometrial lesions.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Endometrium / drug effects*
  • Endometrium / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / pathology
  • Postmenopause
  • Premenopause
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology*
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Tamoxifen