Endometrial cancer. Prevention, detection, management, and follow up.


Elit L




Can Fam Physician


OBJECTIVE: To review risk factors for uterine cancer; to discuss strategies for detecting uterine cancer; to outline prognostic factors and treatment; and to review the role of follow up for patients who have completed primary therapy. QUALITY OF EVIDENCE: MEDLINE was searched from January 1996 to June 1998 using the terms endometrial neoplasms, estrogen replacement therapy, hormone replacement therapy, tamoxifen, and screening. Only English language articles were reviewed. Study types included reviews. Bibliographies of articles found were searched for further relevant titles. Causation literature is available from well conducted cohort trials. Treatment recommendations are based in part on prognostic information and a few randomized controlled trials. MAIN MESSAGE: Risk factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic, are associated with uterine cancer. Family physicians have a role in preventing disease by ensuring that all women with uteri in situ using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have progesterone therapy as part of the HRT regimen. Detection is crucial; abnormal uterine bleeding or undiagnosed postmenopausal bleeding warrants investigation with endometrial biopsy. The goal of surgery is to remove the uterus and ovaries and identify factors that make the disease at high risk of recurrence. Although adjuvant radiation therapy does not prolong survival, it does alter the pattern of disease recurrence. The goal of follow up after primary therapy is to identify recurrent disease while it is still curable. CONCLUSIONS: Family physicians play an important role in preventing uterine cancer, initiating early diagnosis of disease, and in the future, might be more actively involved in caring for patients following primary therapy.