Endometrial carcinoma is one of the most common female pelvic malignancies. It is well known that uterine endometrial cell proliferation is under the control of both estrogen and progesterone. In this review, results of the recent studies on the biosynthesis and action of estrogen and progestin in normal endometrium and its disorders will be summarized and the new aspects of hormonal therapies in the patients with endometrial carcinoma will be discussed including its future prospectives. We reported that the enzymes responsible for intratumoral estrogen metabolism and biosynthesis are markedly different between human breast and endometrial carcinoma, although both of them are considered "estrogen-dependent malignancies". In addition, the biological significance of Progesterone receptor (PR) isoforms is considered to differ between endometrial and breast carcinomas. Clinical data concerning Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and estrogen-dependent cancer risk also support these findings. These basic and clinical findings help to understand the biology and provide the new knowledge for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human endomerial carcinoma. Specific endocrine treatment of endometrial carcinoma should be explored in future, although aromatase inhibitors are the most effective endocrine treatments of estrogen-responsive breast carcinoma. Retinoid, metabolities of vitamin A, and synthetic peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) γ ligands, which have been used for the treatment of insulin resistance in type II diabetes mellitus, may be the important candidates as drugs not only for prevention but also for possible endocrine treatment of endometrial carcinoma.
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