Endometrial cancer is the most common gynaecological cancer in the Western World. Hormones that influence the development of this increasingly common malignancy are currently under high scrutiny in order to explore novel therapeutic avenues.
The increasing incidence in longevity and obesity observed over the last few decades has been accompanied by an alarming rise in cancers of the internal uterine lining (endometrial cancer). This increase is expected to continue. Endometrial cancer is the most common female genital tract cancer with an incidence rate projected to double in the Western World by 2025, relative to the observed value in 2005.
A current review, published in Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation, aims to consolidate the current knowledge of the involvement of the three main endogenous ovarian hormones (oestrogens, progesterone and androgens) in addition to other hormones in endometrial tumour development in order to identify important avenues for future research.
Ovarian hormones regulate normal human endometrial cell growth, renewal and function and thus contribute to endometrial cancer formation either directly or by influencing other hormones and metabolic pathways. An excess of oestrogen and insulin and a lack of progesterone have been proposed as the main hormonal aberrations affecting endometrial proliferation and cell survival that can increase the risk of epithelial cell transformation/carcinogenesis. More recent studies have also reported alterations in other hormones such as androgens and gonadotropin-releasing hormones in endometrial cancer patients. Interestingly, an imbalance of all these hormones has been found to influence most of the well-established risk factors of endometrial cancer.
Several pharmacological agents that alter hormonal activity in the body are considered as preventative and/or treatment strategies due to the role they play in the development of endometrial cancer.
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