Outlook Endometrial cancer starts in the layer of cells that form the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. It is a cancer of the womb or uterus. Most uterine cancers start as endometrial cancer.
Family history having close relatives with endometrial or colorectal cancer Having been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer in the past Having been diagnosed with endometrial hyperplasia in the past Treatment with radiation therapy to the pelvis to treat another cancer Some of these, like pregnancy, birth control pills, and the use of an intrauterine device are linked to a lower risk of endometrial cancer, while many are linked to a higher risk.
These factors and how they affect endometrial cancer risk are discussed in more detail below. Hormone factors A woman's hormone balance plays a part in the development of most endometrial cancers.
Many of the risk factors for endometrial cancer affect estrogen levels. Before menopause, the ovaries are the major source Endometrial cance the 2 main types of female hormones -- estrogen and progesterone.
The balance between these hormones changes during a woman's menstrual cycle each month. This produces a woman's monthly periods and keeps the endometrium healthy. A shift in the balance of these hormones toward more estrogen increases a woman's risk for developing endometrial cancer.
After menopause, the ovaries stop making these hormones, but a small amount of estrogen is still made naturally in fat tissue. Estrogen from fat tissue has a bigger impact after menopause than it does before menopause.
Estrogen therapy Treating the symptoms of menopause with hormones is known as menopausal hormone therapy or sometimes hormone replacement therapy. Estrogen is the major part of this treatment.
Estrogen treatment can reduce hot flashes, improve vaginal dryness, and help prevent the weakening of the bones osteoporosis that can occur with menopause. Doctors have found, however, that using estrogen alone without progesterone can lead to type I endometrial cancer in women who still have a uterus.
To lower that riska progestin progesterone or a drug like it must be given along with estrogen. This approach is called combination hormone therapy. Women who take progesterone along with estrogen to treat menopausal symptoms do not have an increased risk of endometrial cancer.
Still, taking this combination increases a woman's chance of developing breast cancer and also increases the risk of serious blood clots. If you are taking or plan to take hormones after menopause, it is important to discuss the possible risks including cancer, blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke with your doctor.
Like any other medicine, hormones should be used only at the lowest dose that is needed and for the shortest possible time to control symptoms. Experts recommend yearly follow-up pelvic exams. If you have any abnormal bleeding or discharge from the vagina you should see your doctor or other health care provider right away and not wait for a check-up.
For more information about the cancer risks from taking hormones after menopause, see Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Cancer Risk.
Birth control pills Using birth control pills oral contraceptives lowers the risk of endometrial cancer. The risk is lowest in women who take the pill for a long time, and this protection continues for at least 10 years after a woman stops taking this form of birth control.
However, it is important to look at all of the risks and benefits when choosing a contraceptive method; endometrial cancer risk is only one factor to be considered.
It's a good idea to discuss the pros and cons of different types of birth control with your doctor.
Total number of menstrual cycles Having more menstrual cycles during a woman's lifetime raises her risk of endometrial cancer.Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the womb, or uterus, in the cells that form the lining of uterus.
Treatment is often successful with an early diagnosis. Early warning signs. Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic disease diagnosed in women in the United States. The gynecologic team at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) knows that you and your health are anything but common.
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