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The Oncogenic Potential of Endometrial Polyps: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Lee, Stephanie Cruz MD; Kaunitz, Andrew M. MD; Sanchez-Ramos, Luis MD; Rhatigan, Ronald M. MD

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181f74864

OBJECTIVE: To systematically review and summarize the medical literature regarding the association of menopausal status, uterine bleeding, and polyp size and risk of malignancy among women undergoing polyp resection.

DATA SOURCES: We supplemented a search of entries in electronic databases with references cited in original studies and review articles to identify studies assessing the risk of malignancy for patients undergoing polypectomy. Key word searches were performed using the words “endometrial polyp,” “malignancy,” “ultrasound,” “saline sonohysterography,” “hysteroscopy,” and “histopathology.”

METHODS OF STUDY SELECTION: We evaluated abstracted data and performed quantitative analyses in observational studies assessing the effects of menopausal status, vaginal bleeding, and polyp size on the risk of malignancy in patients undergoing polyp resection (n=1,552). For each study with binary outcomes, relative risks with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated. Estimates of relative risk were calculated using fixed and random-effects models. Homogeneity was tested across the studies. Sensitivity analyses were performed to determine the effects of individual studies on the overall effect estimates. Publication bias was assessed using Egger test.

TABULATION, INTEGRATION, AND RESULTS: Seventeen studies met inclusion criteria for this review. Among women found to have endometrial polyps, the prevalence of premalignant or malignant polyps was 5.42% (214 of 3,946) in postmenopausal women compared with 1.7% (68 of 3,997) in reproductive-aged women (relative risk 3.86; 95% CI 2.92–5.11). The prevalence of endometrial neoplasia within polyps in women with symptomatic bleeding was 4.15% (195 of 4,697) compared with 2.16% (85 of 3,941) for those without bleeding (relative risk 1.97; 95% CI 1.24–3.14). Among symptomatic postmenopausal women with endometrial polyps, 4.47% (88 of 1,968) had a malignant polyp in comparison to 1.51% (25 of 1,654) asymptomatic postmenopausal women (relative risk 3.36; 95% CI 1.45–7.80).

CONCLUSION: Based on data from observational studies, both symptomatic vaginal bleeding and postmenopausal status in women with endometrial polyps are associated with an increased risk of endometrial malignancy.

In women with endometrial polyps, symptomatic vaginal bleeding and postmenopausal status are associated with an increased risk of endometrial malignancy.

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Family Birth Place at St Luke's Hospital; and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Division of Maternal and Fetal Medicine, and the Department of Pathology, University of Florida College of Medicine–Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida.

Corresponding author: Stephanie Cruz Lee, MD, 6885 Belfort Oaks Place, Suite 300 Jacksonville, FL 32216; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2010 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.