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Endometrial Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)

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Stage I Endometrial Cancer

Uterine serous histologies have higher rates of recurrence than do other stage I endometrioid carcinomas. The outcomes in institutional case series that utilize a policy of adjuvant carboplatin plus paclitaxel, occasionally including radiation therapy, for this histologic subtype, have been published and form the basis of management guidelines.[1-7] The Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG-0249 [NCT00807768]) trial is comparing this chemotherapy regimen to pelvic radiation.

Standard treatment options:

A total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy should be done if the tumor:

  • Is well or moderately differentiated.
  • Involves the upper 66% of the corpus.
  • Has negative peritoneal cytology.
  • Is without vascular space invasion.
  • Has less than a 50% myometrial invasion.

Selected pelvic lymph nodes may be removed. If they are negative, no postoperative treatment is indicated. Postoperative treatment with a vaginal cylinder is advocated by some clinicians.[8]

For all other cases and cell types, a pelvic and selective periaortic node sampling should be combined with the total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, if there are no medical or technical contraindications. One study found that node dissection per se did not significantly add to the overall morbidity from hysterectomy.[9] While the radiation therapy will reduce the incidence of local and regional recurrence, improved survival has not been proven and toxic effects are worse.[10-14] Results of two randomized trials on the use of adjuvant radiation therapy 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.[13,15,16][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).[17]

The PORTEC-2 (NCT00411138) trial randomly assigned patients with stage I endometrial cancer who did not undergo lymph node dissection to undergo vaginal brachytherapy (VBT) or external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT), with prevention of vaginal recurrence as the primary outcome.[18] At 5 years, there was no difference in the rates of vaginal recurrence, locoregional recurrence, progression-free survival or overall survival (OS) (84.8% [95% confidence interval (CI), 79.3–90.3] vs. 79.6% [95% CI, 71.2–88.0] for VBT and EBRT, respectively; P = .57). There were significantly fewer gastrointestinal toxic effects and significantly improved quality of life in the VBT group, making VBT the preferred option for adjuvant treatment of patients with stage I disease.[18,19][Level of evidence: 1iA]

Patients who have medical contraindications to surgery may be treated with radiation therapy alone, but inferior cure rates below those attained with surgery may occur.[8,20,21]

Several randomized trials have compared total laparoscopic hysterectomy (TLH) with the standard open procedure, total abdominal hysterectomy (TAH), for patients with early-stage endometrial cancer. Feasibility of the laparoscopic approach has been confirmed, although TLH is associated with a longer operative time.[22-24] TLH had an improved [22,23] or similar [24] adverse event profile and a shorter hospital stay [22-24] when compared with TAH. TLH was associated with less pain and quicker resumption of daily activities,[24,25] although one study found that most of the gains in quality of life favoring laparoscopy at the 6-week postsurgical period were no longer significant at 6 months.[24,25]

The completed GOG-Lamina-associated polypeptide 2 (GOG-LAP2) trial included 2,616 patients with clinical stage I to IIA disease and randomly assigned them two-to-one to comprehensive surgical staging via laparoscopy or laparotomy.[26] Time to recurrence was the primary endpoint, with noninferiority defined as a difference in recurrence rate of less than 5.3% between the two groups at 3 years. The recurrence rate at 3 years was 10.24% for patients in the laparotomy arm, compared with 11.39% for patients in the laparoscopy arm, with an estimated difference between groups of 1.14% (90% lower bound, -1.278; 95% upper bound, 3.996). Although this difference was lower than the prespecified limit, the statistical requirements for noninferiority were not met because of a lower-than-expected number of recurrences in both groups. A Cochrane Review of the use of laparoscopic staging included four randomized controlled trials that reported OS and PFS, although 90% of the patients were from the GOG-LAP2 trial. Overall, laparoscopy was associated with similar OS and PFS rates when it was compared with laparotomy.[27][Level of evidence: 1iiA]The OS at 5 years was 89.8% in both groups. Future analyses may determine whether there are subgroups of patients for whom there is a clinically significant decrement when laparoscopic staging is utilized.[26][Level of evidence: 1iiDiii]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I endometrial carcinoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Kiess AP, Damast S, Makker V, et al.: Five-year outcomes of adjuvant carboplatin/paclitaxel chemotherapy and intravaginal radiation for stage I-II papillary serous endometrial cancer. Gynecol Oncol 127 (2): 321-5, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Boruta DM 2nd, Gehrig PA, Fader AN, et al.: Management of women with uterine papillary serous cancer: a Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) review. Gynecol Oncol 115 (1): 142-53, 2009. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Huh WK, Powell M, Leath CA 3rd, et al.: Uterine papillary serous carcinoma: comparisons of outcomes in surgical Stage I patients with and without adjuvant therapy. Gynecol Oncol 91 (3): 470-5, 2003. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Fader AN, Drake RD, O'Malley DM, et al.: Platinum/taxane-based chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy favorably impacts survival outcomes in stage I uterine papillary serous carcinoma. Cancer 115 (10): 2119-27, 2009. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Kelly MG, O'malley DM, Hui P, et al.: Improved survival in surgical stage I patients with uterine papillary serous carcinoma (UPSC) treated with adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy. Gynecol Oncol 98 (3): 353-9, 2005. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Havrilesky LJ, Secord AA, Bae-Jump V, et al.: Outcomes in surgical stage I uterine papillary serous carcinoma. Gynecol Oncol 105 (3): 677-82, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. Dietrich CS 3rd, Modesitt SC, DePriest PD, et al.: The efficacy of adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy in Stage I uterine papillary serous carcinoma (UPSC). Gynecol Oncol 99 (3): 557-63, 2005. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Eltabbakh GH, Piver MS, Hempling RE, et al.: Excellent long-term survival and absence of vaginal recurrences in 332 patients with low-risk stage I endometrial adenocarcinoma treated with hysterectomy and vaginal brachytherapy without formal staging lymph node sampling: report of a prospective trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 38 (2): 373-80, 1997. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Homesley HD, Kadar N, Barrett RJ, et al.: Selective pelvic and periaortic lymphadenectomy does not increase morbidity in surgical staging of endometrial carcinoma. Am J Obstet Gynecol 167 (5): 1225-30, 1992. [PUBMED Abstract]
  10. Aalders J, Abeler V, Kolstad P, et al.: Postoperative external irradiation and prognostic parameters in stage I endometrial carcinoma: clinical and histopathologic study of 540 patients. Obstet Gynecol 56 (4): 419-27, 1980. [PUBMED Abstract]
  11. Morrow CP, Bundy BN, Kurman RJ, et al.: Relationship between surgical-pathological risk factors and outcome in clinical stage I and II carcinoma of the endometrium: a Gynecologic Oncology Group study. Gynecol Oncol 40 (1): 55-65, 1991. [PUBMED Abstract]
  12. Marchetti DL, Caglar H, Driscoll DL, et al.: Pelvic radiation in stage I endometrial adenocarcinoma with high-risk attributes. Gynecol Oncol 37 (1): 51-4, 1990. [PUBMED Abstract]
  13. 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]
  14. Kong A, Johnson N, Kitchener HC, et al.: Adjuvant radiotherapy for stage I endometrial cancer: an updated Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis. J Natl Cancer Inst 104 (21): 1625-34, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  15. 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]
  16. 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]
  17. 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]
  18. 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]
  19. Nout RA, Putter H, Jürgenliemk-Schulz IM, et al.: Five-year quality of life of endometrial cancer patients treated in the randomised Post Operative Radiation Therapy in Endometrial Cancer (PORTEC-2) trial and comparison with norm data. Eur J Cancer 48 (11): 1638-48, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  20. Stokes S, Bedwinek J, Kao MS, et al.: Treatment of stage I adenocarcinoma of the endometrium by hysterectomy and adjuvant irradiation: a retrospective analysis of 304 patients. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 12 (3): 339-44, 1986. [PUBMED Abstract]
  21. Grigsby PW, Kuske RR, Perez CA, et al.: Medically inoperable stage I adenocarcinoma of the endometrium treated with radiotherapy alone. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 13 (4): 483-8, 1987. [PUBMED Abstract]
  22. Janda M, Gebski V, Brand A, et al.: Quality of life after total laparoscopic hysterectomy versus total abdominal hysterectomy for stage I endometrial cancer (LACE): a randomised trial. Lancet Oncol 11 (8): 772-80, 2010. [PUBMED Abstract]
  23. Walker JL, Piedmonte MR, Spirtos NM, et al.: Laparoscopy compared with laparotomy for comprehensive surgical staging of uterine cancer: Gynecologic Oncology Group Study LAP2. J Clin Oncol 27 (32): 5331-6, 2009. [PUBMED Abstract]
  24. Mourits MJ, Bijen CB, Arts HJ, et al.: Safety of laparoscopy versus laparotomy in early-stage endometrial cancer: a randomised trial. Lancet Oncol 11 (8): 763-71, 2010. [PUBMED Abstract]
  25. Kornblith AB, Huang HQ, Walker JL, et al.: Quality of life of patients with endometrial cancer undergoing laparoscopic international federation of gynecology and obstetrics staging compared with laparotomy: a Gynecologic Oncology Group study. J Clin Oncol 27 (32): 5337-42, 2009. [PUBMED Abstract]
  26. Walker JL, Piedmonte MR, Spirtos NM, et al.: Recurrence and survival after random assignment to laparoscopy versus laparotomy for comprehensive surgical staging of uterine cancer: Gynecologic Oncology Group LAP2 Study. J Clin Oncol 30 (7): 695-700, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  27. Galaal K, Bryant A, Fisher AD, et al.: Laparoscopy versus laparotomy for the management of early stage endometrial cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 9: CD006655, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: April 17, 2015