Tumors and hormones

Tumors and hormones

Steroid hormones serve essential functions in the human body. Various reproductive organs in man (testis, prostate) and woman (uterus, breast, ovary) are dependent on androgens and estrogens respectively. Cells in these tissues carry steroid receptors on their surface. Steroids circulating in the blood bind to these receptors and stimulate growth-related activities in the cell. Check the endocrinology section for more information on the physiology of reproduction.

When cells that have steroid receptors become cancerous, exposure to steroids increases the cancer’s growth. In women, cancer cells of breast or ovary that have estrogen receptors are referred to as estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) cancers. Similarly, testosterone-sensitive prostate cancers in males are stimulated by testosterone.

Steroid-receptors are usually localized in the cytoplasm (or nucleus). Steroids can pass the cell membrane easily. After binding to the steroid-receptor, the ligand-receptor complex is translocated to the nucleus, where it can attach to specific sequences of DNA, called responsive elements (RE). Adhesion to the DNA alters gene transcription. In tumor cells, mostly genes of growth factors and proteins involved in division are turned on.


Which hormone is most closely associated with carcinoma of the endometrium?