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Gynecol Endocrinol. 2012 Aug;28(8):577-81. doi: 10.3109/09513590.2011.650761. Epub 2012 Feb 6.

Molecular links between endometriosis and cancer.

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Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Malta, Tal-Qroqq, Msida, MSD 2080, Malta.


Endometriosis is the leading cause of morbidity among premenopausal women affecting about 1 in 10 females. The features shared by endometriosis and cancer include the ability to evade apoptosis, the stem cell-like ability and angiogenic potential. As such characteristics are encoded by the cell's genetic constitution, acquired mutations are responsible for the malignant transformation of endometriosis. Indeed, a number of tumour-suppressor genes and proto-oncogenes, such as protein 53 (P53) and B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) respectively, are mutated and as a result differentially expressed between endometriotic and malignant tissue associated with endometriosis. Moreover, cytokines and macrophages, both of which are inflammatory mediators have been implicated in the transformation process. The angiogenic properties possessed by cancer arising from endometriosis signifies a bad prognosis, while the stem cell-like activity possessed by both endometriosis and cancer has been attributed to the effect of oestrogen. A number of differences between endometriosis and cancer are found at the molecular level. Considering the link between these two pathologies, the three components which fuel the malignant transformation of endometriosis can be embodied in the endometriosis-induced carcinoma (EIC) triangle which shows the intricate relationship between endocrinologic, immunologic and genetic components.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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