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Risk factors

GENERAL

  • Age: Most women diagnosed with uterine cancer are over age 50 and have gone through menopause.
  • Number of menstrual cycles: Women who have more menstrual cycles in their lifetime have an increased uterine cancer risk. This includes starting periods before age 12 and going through menopause after age 50.
  • Childbearing status: Researchers are still investigating why pregnancy seems to reduce the risk of uterine cancer. During pregnancy, a woman’s hormonal balance shifts towards progesterone, which reduces estrogen. Irregular menstrual cycles and infertility also may be related to imbalances in estrogen and progesterone levels, and this hormone imbalance may increase the risk for uterine cancer.

BODY

  • Obesity: Fat tissues tend to produce higher levels of estrogen, particularly after menopause, which places older, overweight women at greater risk for this type of uterine cancer.

GENETICS

  • Family history: Women with a family history of endometrial, colon or ovarian cancer, including a genetic syndrome called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), may be at a higher risk of developing uterine cancer.

OTHER CONDITIONS

  • Diabetes:Uterine cancer is more prevalent in women with diabetes. Doctors think this may have to do with the higher obesity rates found in patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • Complex atypical endometrial hyperplasia: This precancerous condition is an increased growth of the uterine lining and may become cancerous if left untreated.
  • Ovarian tumors and syndromes: Certain ovarian syndromes, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and ovarian tumors can increase estrogen levels and increase a woman’s risk of developing this type of uterine cancer.

PREVIOUS TREATMENT

  • Estrogen replacement therapy: Replacing estrogen without progesterone after menopause may increase a woman’s risk of developing this type of uterine cancer.
  • Tamoxifen: Women who are treated with the breast cancer drug, Tamoxifen, have an increased risk of developing uterine cancer

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