Are You at Risk for Uterine or Endometrial Cancer?

Risk factors for endometrial cancer include:

Excess Estrogen Exposure – Though estrogen is a normal and essential hormone for female development and maintenance of female sexual characteristics, estrogen can also stimulate the growth of endometrial cancer – particularly when exposure is prolonged or not balanced by another hormone called progesterone. Such exposure may result from the following:

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  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Early age of start of menstruation
  • Late age at menopause
  • Infertility/never giving birth
  • Obesity
  • Estrogen only hormone replacement therapy
  • Tamoxifen therapy (acts like estrogen in the uterus)

Diabetes and Hypertension – The association with obesity accounts for much of the risk but studies have found independent effects as well.

Family History – A history of colon, endometrial or ovarian cancer may point to Lynch Syndrome which places women at particularly high risk.

Most women with endometrial cancer are diagnosed at an early stage and have a very good prognosis. The risk factors for more aggressive variants are less clear but they may occur more commonly in black women. Uterine sarcomas occur in the uterine muscle or structural elements rather than the lining of the uterus and though very rare, are associated with a history of pelvic radiation and tamoxifen use.Family History – A history of colon, endometrial or ovarian cancer may point to Lynch Syndrome which places women at particularly high risk.

Basic Facts About Uterine Cancer

The purpose of this blog is to provide information about uterine cancer, its warning signs, diagnosis and treatment — and to hear from readers. All content is reviewed by expert gynecologic cancer specialists.

We welcome your comments and questions, and will publish and respond to as many as possible.

Learn Listen ActThere are two kinds of uterine cancer, endometrial cancer and uterine sarcomas. Endometrial cancer is by far the more common of the two, with uterine sarcomas accounting for only about 5% of uterine cancers. In fact, endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer with more than 52,000 diagnoses expected this year. Unfortunately, this number is expected to grow because of the link between obesity and endometrial cancer.

The endometrium is the lining of the uterus, or womb. Endometrial cancer begins in the lining of the endometrium while uterine sarcomas begin in the muscles of the uterus. Uterine sarcomas are much less common but are more aggressive.

It is very important for women to learn the warning signs of uterine cancer:

  • Younger women should be alert to irregular or heavy vaginal bleeding
  • For older women who have undergone menopause, ANY vaginal bleeding may be a warning sign
  • Pelvic pain or pressure can be a warning sign of a uterine sarcoma
  • A rapidly growing fibroid in post-menopausal women should raise suspicion of a leiomyosarcoma

If you experience these symptoms or conditions over time, please make an appointment with a physician, preferably a gynecologist.

Next time we will discuss uterine cancer risk factors.

Spotlight

In honor of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, The Foundation for Women’s Cancer is featuring a video produced by the Society of Gynecologic Oncology on the HPV vaccine. The two-minute video encourages parents to get their children the vaccine.

Awareness

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month.  After creating the month in 1999, the Foundation strives to bring attention about these cancers through public awareness campaigns.

Research

The Foundation is proud to offer various Research Grants and Awards. Click here for more information.

Education

FREE Gynecologic Cancer Survivors Courses throughout the country. For more information, click here.