Uterine cancer (referred to as a sarcoma, a form of cancer that develops in connective tissue like muscle and bone) develops from cells of the uterine lining.
Uterine sarcomas take one of three forms:
As with any cancer, prevention and early detection are your best defense. Learn what to look for and how to minimize your risk of uterine cancer.
Doctors still have yet to discover what causes uterine cancer. Most uterine cancers happen after a woman reaches middle age, and are twice as likely to affect African American women. However, certain identifiable risk factors are also known to increase your chance of getting the disease, especially endometrial sarcomas.
Women who began menstruating before age 12, or who experience menopause later are exposed to higher, prolonged levels of estrogen, and therefore have a higher risk for uterine cancer. The same is true for women who have never had children, or who experience heavier bleeding during perimenopause.
Having higher levels of body fat can increase your body’s level of estrogen, thus increasing your risk of endometrial cancer.
Though relatively small, the risk of developing endometrial uterine cancer increases with use of Tamoxifen to treat, or reduce the risk of, breast cancer.
Your risk of developing uterine cancer is higher if you have a family history of the disease, specifically if it struck a mother, daughter or sister. Women who have previously had breast cancer or ovarian cancer also have a higher risk of uterine cancer. Further, if your family history includes hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer, your uterine cancer risk may also be higher.
Studies have found that the risk of developing endometrial uterine cancer is up to five times greater for women using ERT after menopause. If you’re using ERT, talk to your doctor about your risks and other options.
Studies show endometrial cancer risk may be up to four times higher for women who are overweight and have diabetes than those who are overweight only.
Radiation can sometimes damage or alter certain cell DNA. Therefore, women who’ve undergone radiation therapy to treat other gynecological or colorectal cancers have a higher risk of developing uterine cancer.
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