Endometrial cancer: Chemotherapy, systematic review and aggregate data meta-analysis

Chemotherapy for advanced, recurrent or metastatic endometrial carcinoma

Does chemotherapy help women with cancer of the womb?

What was this study about?

Endometrial carcinoma - cancer of the lining of the womb, is the most common form of womb cancer. Doctors usually try to treat it using surgery and radiotherapy. Often this is successful. But sometimes the cancer spreads or comes back after it has been treated.

Doctors wanted to know if they should treat women with chemotherapy as well as surgery and radiotherapy. So we did a systematic review and meta analysis looking at whether it is helpful to give chemotherapy to women with endometrial cancer that has spread or come back. It brought together information about women who had taken part in similar randomised controlled trials.. These trials compared what happened to women who had been given chemotherapy with what happened to those who hadn't.

What difference did this study make?

This study showed that chemotherapy did not help women to live longer. Chemotherapy also seemed to cause more serious short term side effects.

But the study also showed that chemotherapy could keep women free of symptoms for longer. The drugs that seemed to help most were paclitaxel or platinum drugs - but the results weren't clear.

The trials which were included in this review did not contain enough information for the researchers to answer questions about long term side effects, quality of life or symptom control.

This study led researchers to suggest that more trials needed to be done, so that we can find out which chemotherapy drugs could be used to treat women with endometrial cancer that has spread or come back. They also said that these trials should look at women's quality of life and how their symptoms were controlled.

Vale CL, Tierney J, Bull SJ, Symonds PR. Chemotherapy for advanced, recurrent or metastatic endometrial carcinoma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012(8):Art. No.: CD003915. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003915.pub4.


Type of study


Contact details


Who funded the study?

The Medical Research Council, NHS R&D, MacMillan Cancer Relief, University of Liverpool and the University of Leicester.

When did it take place?

This study was published in 2005. It brought together the results of trials that had been carried out between 1974 and 2000.

Where did it take place?

The study was carried out in the UK but brought together the results of trials from all over the world.

Who was included?

Women with endometrial cancer who took part in randomised controlled trials comparing chemotherapy with no chemotherapy. The study brought together 11 trials from all over the world. These trials involved nearly 2300 women with endometrial cancer.