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Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Feb;14(1):67-73.

Current status and future innovations of hormonal agents, chemotherapy and investigational agents in endometrial cancer.

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  • 1Division of Gynecologic Oncology, MacMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


The median survival of women with advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer is less than one year. Only half the women with early stage endometrial cancer and poor prognostic factors such as high grade or deep myometrial invasion will survive for 5 years. Over the past decade, incredible strides have been taken in evaluating systemic therapy for this disease. However, survival rates remain poor. A literature search was conducted using CANCERLIT, EMBASE, Medline, Investigational Drug database (Current Drug Ltd.) and R&D Focus (IMSworld Publications). The references of the articles were also explored. Search terms included: endometrial cancer, chemotherapy, endocrine/hormonal therapies, molecular biologics, and specific drug names. Progestin therapy offers a 10-20% response rate and survival of less than 1 year. Progestins are most effective in women with well-differentiated tumours and a long disease-free interval. There is no role for adjuvant progestin therapy in early stage disease. Single-agent chemotherapy with the most activity includes ifosfamide, cisplatin/carboplatin, doxorubicin and paclitaxel. Combination chemotherapy provides a response rate of 40-60%; however, median survival is still less than a year. New areas of research include the identification and evaluation of new active endocrine therapies (i.e. LY353381.HCl and letrozole), chemotherapeutics (i.e. herceptin), evaluating chemotherapeutic agents in combination (i.e. paclitaxel, doxorubicin and platinum), in addition to radiation or instead of radiation. New avenues under development involve the specific molecules and pathways responsible for the initiation and growth of endometrial carcinoma, including: tumour suppressor genes, DNA mismatch repair genes, oncogenes, molecules involved in adhesion and invasion and angiogenesis. Further significant advances in radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy are unlikely. Exciting developments in understanding the molecules involved in tumour development and metastasis will allow the development of specific and selective inhibitors.

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