Endometrial Cancer

by Timothy P Canavan, Nipa R Doshi
Am Fam Physician ()


Endometrial cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, accounting for approximately 6,000 deaths per year in the United States. It is more common in women who are older, white, affluent, obese and of low parity. Hypertension and diabetes mellitus are also predisposing factors. Because any condition that increases exposure to unopposed estrogen increases the risk of endometrial cancer, tamoxifen therapy, estrogen replacement therapy without progestin and the presence of estrogen-secreting tumors are all risk factors. Smoking and the use of oral contraceptives appear to decrease the risk. Women with an increased risk and those with postmenopausal bleeding should be screened for endometrial cancer. Endometrial sampling is currently the most accurate and widely used screening technique, but ultrasonographic measurement of endometrial thickness and hysteroscopy have also been studied. Patients with endometrial specimens that show atypia have about a 25 percent likelihood of progressing to carcinoma, compared with less than 2 percent in patients without atypia. Endometrial cancer is usually treated surgically, but in patients with appropriate pathologic findings who decline surgical treatment, progestin therapy may be satisfactory.

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