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Endometrial Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)

  • Last Modified: 03/14/2014

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Treatment Option Overview

Patients with endometrial cancer who have localized disease are usually curable by hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Best results are obtained with either of two standard treatments: hysterectomy or hysterectomy and adjuvant radiation therapy (when deep invasion of the myometrial muscle [50% of the depth] or grade 3 tumor with myometrial invasion is present). Results of two randomized trials on the use of external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) in patients with stage I disease did not show improved survival but did show reduced locoregional recurrence (3%–4% vs. 12%–14% after 5–6 years' median follow-up, P <.001) with an increase in side effects.[1-3][Level of evidence: 1iiDii] Results of a study by the Danish Endometrial Cancer Group also suggest that the absence of radiation does not improve the survival of patients with stage I, intermediate-risk disease (grade 1 and 2 with >50% myometrial invasion or grade 3 with <50% myometrial invasion).[4]

Vaginal cuff brachytherapy is associated with less radiation-related morbidity than is EBRT and has been shown to be equivalent to EBRT in the adjuvant setting for patients with stage I disease.[5] A subset of patients with stage I disease are at a high risk of recurrence and are eligible for adjuvant therapy. Most patients will do well with surgery alone.

Some patients have regional and distant metastases that, though occasionally responsive to standard hormone therapy, are rarely curable. For these patients, standard therapy is inadequate.

Progestational agents have been evaluated as adjuvant therapy in a randomized clinical trial of stage I disease and have been shown to be of no benefit. These studies, however, were not stratified according to level of progesterone receptor in the primary tumor. No trials of adjuvant progestins in more advanced disease are reported. Determination of progesterone receptors in the primary tumor is encouraged, and entry onto an appropriate adjuvant trial (if receptor levels are high) should be considered. If no trial is available, data from receptors on the primary tumor may help guide therapy for recurrent disease, should it occur.

References
  1. Creutzberg CL, van Putten WL, Koper PC, et al.: Surgery and postoperative radiotherapy versus surgery alone for patients with stage-1 endometrial carcinoma: multicentre randomised trial. PORTEC Study Group. Post Operative Radiation Therapy in Endometrial Carcinoma. Lancet 355 (9213): 1404-11, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Keys HM, Roberts JA, Brunetto VL, et al.: A phase III trial of surgery with or without adjunctive external pelvic radiation therapy in intermediate risk endometrial adenocarcinoma: a Gynecologic Oncology Group study. Gynecol Oncol 92 (3): 744-51, 2004.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Scholten AN, van Putten WL, Beerman H, et al.: Postoperative radiotherapy for Stage 1 endometrial carcinoma: long-term outcome of the randomized PORTEC trial with central pathology review. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 63 (3): 834-8, 2005.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Bertelsen K, Ortoft G, Hansen ES: Survival of Danish patients with endometrial cancer in the intermediate-risk group not given postoperative radiotherapy: the Danish Endometrial Cancer Study (DEMCA). Int J Gynecol Cancer 21 (7): 1191-9, 2011.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Nout RA, Smit VT, Putter H, et al.: Vaginal brachytherapy versus pelvic external beam radiotherapy for patients with endometrial cancer of high-intermediate risk (PORTEC-2): an open-label, non-inferiority, randomised trial. Lancet 375 (9717): 816-23, 2010.  [PUBMED Abstract]