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Endometrial Cancer Screening (PDQ®)

  • Last Modified: 02/26/2014

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Special Populations

Hormone Therapy
Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer
Tamoxifen-Treated Women



Hormone Therapy

There is no evidence to suggest that screening women prior to or during estrogen-progestin therapy, also known as hormone therapy, would decrease endometrial cancer mortality.[1,2] Thus women on hormone therapy should have a prompt diagnostic work-up for abnormal bleeding. Although women using certain hormone regimens have an increased risk of endometrial cancer, most women who develop cancer will have vaginal bleeding. There is no evidence that screening these women would decrease mortality from endometrial cancer.

Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer

The lifetime risk of endometrial cancer for women with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) and for women who are at high risk for HNPCC is as high as 60%. These cases are often diagnosed in the fifth decade, 10 to 20 years earlier than sporadic cases.[3-7] Based on limited evidence, it appears that 5-year survival among HNPCC women diagnosed with endometrial cancer is similar to that of nonhereditary cases in the general population.[8] Because the risk of endometrial cancer is so high among these women, international guidelines suggest gynecologic surveillance including annual transvaginal ultrasound with endometrial biopsy for women aged 25 to 35 years.[9,10] The most recent American Cancer Society Cancer Detection Guidelines (updated January 2005) recommend annual screening with endometrial biopsy beginning at age 35 years.[11]

Tamoxifen-Treated Women

The risk of endometrial cancer is increased in women who are treated with tamoxifen and is even greater in the subset of women who have a history of prior estrogen therapy.[12] Beyond a routine gynecologic examination eliciting any history of abnormal bleeding, it has been recommended that screening studies and procedures for detecting endometrial pathology in women taking tamoxifen should be left to the discretion of the individual gynecologist.[13] Commonly, there are endometrial abnormalities in women taking tamoxifen, especially in false-positive endovaginal ultrasound screening tests. More importantly, any abnormal uterine bleeding should be completely evaluated.

Endometrial cancers that occur in tamoxifen-treated women are very similar to those cancers occurring in the general population, with respect to stage, grade, and histology.[14-16] Prognosis is good and not affected by early detection.[17]

To date, there have been no published studies evaluating the effect of endometrial cancer-screening modalities on mortality among women taking tamoxifen for breast cancer treatment or prevention.

References
  1. ACOG committee opinion. Routine cancer screening. Number 185, September 1997 (replaces no. 128, October 1993). Committee on Gynecologic Practice. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 59 (2): 157-61, 1997.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Korhonen MO, Symons JP, Hyde BM, et al.: Histologic classification and pathologic findings for endometrial biopsy specimens obtained from 2964 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women undergoing screening for continuous hormones as replacement therapy (CHART 2 Study). Am J Obstet Gynecol 176 (2): 377-80, 1997.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Watson P, Vasen HF, Mecklin JP, et al.: The risk of endometrial cancer in hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. Am J Med 96 (6): 516-20, 1994.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Aarnio M, Sankila R, Pukkala E, et al.: Cancer risk in mutation carriers of DNA-mismatch-repair genes. Int J Cancer 81 (2): 214-8, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Vasen HF, Wijnen JT, Menko FH, et al.: Cancer risk in families with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer diagnosed by mutation analysis. Gastroenterology 110 (4): 1020-7, 1996.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Dunlop MG, Farrington SM, Carothers AD, et al.: Cancer risk associated with germline DNA mismatch repair gene mutations. Hum Mol Genet 6 (1): 105-10, 1997.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Lancaster JM, Powell CB, Kauff ND, et al.: Society of Gynecologic Oncologists Education Committee statement on risk assessment for inherited gynecologic cancer predispositions. Gynecol Oncol 107 (2): 159-62, 2007.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. Boks DE, Trujillo AP, Voogd AC, et al.: Survival analysis of endometrial carcinoma associated with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. Int J Cancer 102 (2): 198-200, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. Burke W, Petersen G, Lynch P, et al.: Recommendations for follow-up care of individuals with an inherited predisposition to cancer. I. Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer. Cancer Genetics Studies Consortium. JAMA 277 (11): 915-9, 1997.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  10. Vasen HF, Mecklin JP, Khan PM, et al.: The International Collaborative Group on Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (ICG-HNPCC). Dis Colon Rectum 34 (5): 424-5, 1991.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  11. Smith RA, Cokkinides V, Eyre HJ: American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer, 2005. CA Cancer J Clin 55 (1): 31-44; quiz 55-6, 2005 Jan-Feb.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  12. Barakat RR: Tamoxifen and endometrial neoplasia. Clin Obstet Gynecol 39 (3): 629-40, 1996.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  13. ACOG committee opinion. Tamoxifen and endometrial cancer. Number 169, February 1996. Committee on Gynecologic Practice. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 53 (2): 197-9, 1996.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  14. Fisher B, Costantino JP, Wickerham DL, et al.: Tamoxifen for prevention of breast cancer: report of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project P-1 Study. J Natl Cancer Inst 90 (18): 1371-88, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  15. Barakat RR, Wong G, Curtin JP, et al.: Tamoxifen use in breast cancer patients who subsequently develop corpus cancer is not associated with a higher incidence of adverse histologic features. Gynecol Oncol 55 (2): 164-8, 1994.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  16. Fornander T, Hellström AC, Moberger B: Descriptive clinicopathologic study of 17 patients with endometrial cancer during or after adjuvant tamoxifen in early breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 85 (22): 1850-5, 1993.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  17. Barakat RR, Gilewski TA, Almadrones L, et al.: Effect of adjuvant tamoxifen on the endometrium in women with breast cancer: a prospective study using office endometrial biopsy. J Clin Oncol 18 (20): 3459-63, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]