Cancer - Oncology

Risk Factors and Preventing Uterine Cancer

It is important to know your risks, so you can get screening and treatment if needed.

Risk for Uterine Cancer

The chances of your developing uterine cancer may increase if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • Obesity
  • Breast cancer treatment that included the drug, tamoxifen
  • Close female family members on your mother’s or father’s side of the family who had the following cancers: ovarian, uterine, or colon
  • Extended exposure to estrogen because you:
    • Received estrogen-only hormone treatments without progesterone
    • Started menstruating at a young age
    • Went through late menopause
    • Were never pregnant
  • Fewer than five periods the year before you started menopause
  • Polycystic ovaries
  • Getting pregnant was difficult
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Older than 50 years of age

Genetic Risk for Uterine/Endometrial Cancer

If members of your family had colon or endometrial cancer, you may be at risk for developing uterine cancer. It is possible for you to find out if you are likely to inherit a genetic mutation that puts you at risk for uterine cancer through genetic testing.

If testing reveals that you have a genetic mutation in certain genes associated with Lynch syndrome, you should discuss your risk level with a genetic counselor and your doctor. They can advise you about your choices for next steps, including how to take preventive measures.

Preventing Uterine/Endometrial Cancer

With a genetic risk for uterine cancer based on your family history or genetic testing, the American Cancer Society recommends that you have annual testing for endometrial cancer with an endometrial biopsy starting when you are 35 years of age.

Other ways you may be able to reduce the risk of your developing uterine or endometrial cancer, even if you have no genetic risk, involves making life-style choices that may help you maintain your uterine health.

  • Becoming pregnant or breastfeeding, not just as risk prevention, but as a natural part of your life
  • Healthy eating by incorporating foods that are low in saturated fats by including lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Taking oral contraceptives that combine estrogen and progestin for a protective effect that can last for many years even beyond your use of oral contraceptives

If you have a high risk for uterine/endometrial cancer, after you are done having children, one preventive measure may be for you to have a hysterectomy to remove your uterus. You will want to discuss the benefits and risks of this surgical procedure with your doctor.

Another important risk factor for endometrial cancer is obesity, and maintaining a healthy weight is an important component of preventing endometrial cancer.

Moreover, you may want to see one of our gynecologic oncologists to make a diagnosis for your peace of mind.