Cochrane Summaries

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The effect of hormonal treatment on advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer

Kokka F, Brockbank E, Oram D, Gallagher C, Bryant A
Published Online: 
8 December 2010

Endometrial cancer is cancer arising from the lining of the womb. Most women with endometrial cancer are diagnosed when their tumour is still confined to the body of the womb. However, about 10% of women with endometrial cancer are diagnosed when the disease is already at an advanced stage. The latter group of patients tend to have much poorer survival.

Treatment of women with advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer is challenging because often they suffer from other diseases and aggressive chemotherapy with or without surgery may not be beneficial or may even be harmful. Hormonal therapy in these cases is thought to be easily administered and to cause fewer side effects than systemic chemotherapy (standard treatment).

The purpose of this review was to assess the available literature on the effect of hormonal treatment on the survival of patients with advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer. We found six randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that assessed hormonal treatment in various forms and combinations in 542 eligible patients. We found insufficient evidence to suggest that hormonal therapy improves survival in these patients.

The main limitations of the review were the small number of patients included in the RCTs, the diversity of both the patient population and the hormonal agents used and the fact that quality of life was not reported in any of the trials. The quality of life with treatment is especially important for a condition that has a poor survival rate.