Prognostic significance and treatment implications of positive peritoneal cytology in endometrial adenocarcinoma: Unraveling a mystery

Stephanie L. Wethington, Nicanor I. Barrena Medel, Jason D. Wright, Thomas J. Herzog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Objective: Review the literature on positive peritoneal cytology in endometrioid endometrial adenocarcinoma, its prognostic value, proposed treatment strategies, and future avenues of investigation. Methods: PubMed search of articles pertaining to stage IIIA endometrioid endometrial adenocarcinoma identified over 50 articles that were reviewed. Low-risk stage IIIA1 was defined as those with grade 1 or 2 disease, no evidence of cervical involvement, myometrial invasion less than 50% and no lymph vascular space invasion (LVSI). Analysis of available data was completed with weighted averages, Student's-t-test and Chi square statistical analyses. Results: Incidence of positive washings is approximately 11%. In low-risk stage IIIA1 endometrial carcinoma patients, the rate of recurrence is 4.1%. In contrast, in high-risk stage IIIA1 endometrial carcinoma patients the rate of recurrence is 32%, a statistically significant difference (p < 0.001). Positive peritoneal cytology is associated with an increased incidence of extrauterine disease but is not consistently linked to other high-risk factors such as positive lymph node status, extent of myometrial invasion or LVSI. Conclusions: To date there is no definitive consensus on the prognostic significance of positive peritoneal cytology alone. However, even in the low-risk cohort with stage IIIA1 some patients will recur. Adjuvant therapy for low-risk stage IIIA diseased may or may not be of benefit. High-risk disease should be treated with chemotherapy, radiation or a combination thereof. A prospective, multicenter trial of comprehensively surgically staged patients with stage IIIA endometrial cancer is indicated in order to clearly define prognosis and treatment for these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-25
Number of pages8
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Endometrial carcinoma
  • Peritoneal cytology
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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