Past, present, and future of hormonal therapy in recurrent endometrial cancer

Matthew J. Carlson, Kristina W. Thiel, Kimberly K. Leslie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Endometrial cancer is a heterogeneous disease. Type I cancers are hormonally driven, typically present with a low grade at an early stage, and are of endometrioid histology. These cancers are often cured by surgery, and the rate of recurrence is low. Type II cancers are less differentiated, often appear at a later stage, and are of serous, clear cell, or high grade endometrioid histology. The risk of recurrence in these cancers is much higher than with type I tumors. Isolated pelvic recurrences can be treated with radiation or exenteration, but systemic disease is fatal. It is in these recurrent patients, where prolongation of progression-free survival is the goal, that hormonal therapy can have the greatest benefit. In selected patients, hormonal therapy can be as effective as cytotoxic chemotherapy, without the toxicity and at a much lower cost. Here we review the evidence for treatment of patients suffering from recurrent endometrial cancer with hormonal therapy and explore avenues for the future of hormonal treatment of endometrial cancer. Currently, progesterone is the hormonal treatment of choice in these patients. Other drugs are also used, including selective estrogen receptor modulators, aromatase inhibitors, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonists. Hormonal treatment of recurrent endometrial cancer relies on expression of the hormone receptors, which act as nuclear transcription factors. Tumors that express these receptors are the most sensitive to therapy; it is for this reason that patient selection is vitally important to the successful treatment of recurrent endometrial cancer with hormonal therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-435
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Women's Health
Volume6 .
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2 2014


  • Hormonal therapy
  • Recurrent endometrial cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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