Objectives This review examines how response rates to progestin treatment of low-grade endometrial cancer can be improved. In addition to providing a brief overview of the pathogenesis of low-grade endometrial cancer, we discuss limitations in the current classification of endometrial cancer and how stratification may be refined using molecular markers to reproducibly identify ‘low-risk’ cancers which may represent the best candidates for progestin therapy. We also discuss constraints in current approaches to progestin treatment of low-grade endometrial cancer and perform a systematic review of predictive biomarkers.
Methods PubMed, ClinicalTrials.gov, and Cochrane Library were searched for studies reporting pre-treatment biomarkers associated with outcome in women with low-grade endometrial cancer or endometrial hyperplasia with an intact uterus who received progestin treatment. Studies of fewer than 50 women were excluded. The study protocol was registered in PROSPERO (ID 152374). A descriptive synthesis of pre-treatment predictive biomarkers reported in the included studies was conducted.
Results Of 1908 records reviewed, 19 studies were included. Clinical features such as age or body mass index cannot predict progestin response. Lesions defined as ‘low-risk’ by FIGO criteria (stage 1A, grade 1) can respond well; however, the reproducibility and prognostic ability of the current histopathological classification system is suboptimal. Molecular markers can be reproducibly assessed, have been validated as prognostic biomarkers, and may inform patient selection for progestin treatment. DNA polymerase epsilon (POLE)-ultramutated tumors and a subset of p53 wild-type or DNA mismatch repair (MMR)-deficient tumors with ‘low-risk’ features (eg, progesterone and estrogen receptor-positive) may have improved response rates, though this needs to be validated.
Discussion Molecular markers can identify cases which may be candidates for progestin treatment. More work is needed to validate these biomarkers and potentially identify new ones. Predictive biomarkers are anticipated to inform future research into progestin treatment of low-grade endometrial cancer and ultimately improve patient outcomes.
- endometrial neoplasms
- endometrial hyperplasia
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Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was first published. The funding statement has been amended to acknowledge the NIH/NCI Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA008748.
Contributors EB, DJB, and AO conceived and designed the work and drafted the manuscript. EB, DJB, JNM, JJM, FA, MDJMvG, DGH, RLC, SNW, MSY, CK, MAQ, MJ, and AO all revised the manuscript critically for important intellectual content and approved the final version.
Funding This research was funded in part through the NIH/NCI Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA008748.
Competing interests DGH is a founder and Chief Medical Officer of Contextual Genomics, a for-profit company that provides genomic diagnostics and reporting to assist in cancer patient treatment.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.