Women's Health Matters

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Although most cases of endometrial cancer cannot be prevented, there are certain things a woman can do to lower her risk of developing this disease:

Maintain a healthy body weight.

Endometrial cancer is more common among overweight women, and far more common among obese women, than women who maintain a healthy body weight. Excess fat can increase the level of estrogen in your body, which is associated with an increased risk.

There is also some evidence to suggest that women with diabetes are at a slightly increased risk.

Controlling obesity and diabetes and reducing the amount of animal fats and fatty foods you consume can help reduce your risk for endometrial cancer. Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy body weight and cut your risk in half.

Take oral contraceptives.

Taking oral contraceptives (the Pill) can reduce a woman’s risk of developing endometrial cancer. The risk is lowest in women who take oral contraceptives for a long time. This protection continues for at least 10 years after a woman stops taking them.

Know the risks and benefits of hormone therapy.

Taking estrogen-only hormone therapy (ET) increases a woman’s risk of developing endometrial cancer. This increased risk persists for at least five years after a woman has stopped taking ET. If you are considering taking hormone therapy (HT) for menopause symptoms, take progestin and estrogen together. Although estrogen-progestin therapy can reduce your risk, with long-term use, it can increase your risk for breast cancer. If you are considering taking HT, discuss the risks and benefits with your health-care provider.

Detect and treat endometrial hyperplasia early.

Endometrial hyperplasia is an increased growth of the endometrium. Unlike a cancer, mild or simple hyperplasia can go away on its own or with hormonal treatment. The most common type of hyperplasia, simple hyperplasia, has a very small risk of becoming cancerous. However, simple atypical hyperplasia and complex atypical hyperplasia have a risk of becoming cancerous if untreated, in about 8 percent and up to 29 percent of cases, respectively. Obtain proper treatment for pre-cancerous conditions of the endometrium, like hyperplasia, as early as possible.

If you experience any of the symptoms of endometrial cancer, contact your doctor.

Detecting endometrial cancer in the early stages can lead to a successful cure. The earliest sign of endometrial cancer is typically unusual and irregular bleeding. If you have irregular bleeding, pelvic pain and/or unusual vaginal discharge, it is likely nothing serious, but you should report these symptoms to your doctor immediately. Fortunately, most endometrial cancers are detected early because symptoms usually occur early on in the development of the disease. However, some endometrial cancers may reach an advanced stage before the signs and symptoms are recognizable.

There are no recommended screening tests or examinations, which can reliably detect most endometrial cancers in a woman who has no symptoms. The Pap test can find some early endometrial cancers, but most cases are not detected. A Pap test is generally used to detect cervical abnormalities.


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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital