Discrepancy between ultrasonography and hysteroscopy and histology of endometrium in postmenopausal breast cancer patients using tamoxifen

MJE Mourits*, AGJ Van der Zee, PHB Willemse, KA Ten Hoor, H Hollema, EGE De Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Background. The increased risk of endometrial carcinoma following the use of tamoxifen has stimulated studies on endometrial diagnostic screening methods. In tamoxifen users the endometrial thickening observed with transvaginal ultrasonography (TVU) frequently cannot be confirmed by hysteroscopy or histology.

Objective. The aim was to investigate the relationship between TW and hysteroscopic and histologic endometrial findings in postmenopausal patients using tamoxifen.

Methods. Fifty-three asymptomatic postmenopausal tamoxifen-using breast cancer patients underwent a gynecological examination combined with TVU, Patients with an endometrial thickness of >5 mm were offered hysteroscopy and endometrial biopsy.

Findings. Thirty-one patients (58%) had an endometrial thickness of >5 mm with enhanced, inhomogeneous echogenicity. Hysteroscopy was performed in 22 patients and 3 underwent hysterectomy. Seven of 22 patients had endometrial polyps, histologically characterized by cystically dilated glands lined with atrophic epithelium and periglandular stromal condensation. Histology of the three hysterectomy specimens showed a similar picture of atrophic luminal epithelium, covering dilated glands lined with atrophic epithelium and surrounded by dense stroma, which resembled the histology of the endometrial polyps. In all three specimens the histologically measured endometrial thickness corresponded with that on TW.

Interpretation, Tamoxifen can induce specific endometrial changes consisting of cystically dilated glands with periglandular stromal condensation while the overlying epithelium remains atrophic. The changes occur either in the endometrium itself or as a protrusion of the endometrium, i.e., as endometrial polyps. These findings explain the discrepancy between ultrasound, hysteroscopy, and histology. Due to the high number of false-positive findings, TVU is not an effective screening instrument in these patients, (C) 1999 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalGynecologic Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr-1999



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