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Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer - What Increases Your Risk

A risk factor for endometrial cancer is something that increases your chance of getting it. But it doesn't mean that you will definitely get it. And many people who get endometrial cancer don't have any risk factors.

The biggest risk factor for most endometrial cancers is related to the hormone estrogen. Estrogen is not a risk factor for endometrial cancer when it is balanced with another hormone, progesterone. But when estrogen is not kept in balance with progesterone, it can cause problems that raise a woman's risk for this cancer.

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Risk factors for endometrial cancer include:

  • Being obese. Fat cells make extra estrogen, but the body doesn't make extra progesterone to balance it out.
  • Taking estrogen without taking a progestin.
  • Taking tamoxifen. Tamoxifen reduces your risk for breast cancer but can increase your risk for endometrial cancer.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. This can cause you to produce too much estrogen and not enough progesterone.
  • Having naturally high levels of estrogen. This can cause women to start their periods before age 12 and delay menopause until after they are 52.

Other things that increase your risk include:

  • Being older than 50. Endometrial cancer is most common in women older than 50.
  • Inheriting some kinds of genes, such as those for Lynch syndrome.
  • Having endometrial hyperplasia.
  • Having type 2 diabetes.
  • Never having been pregnant.
  • Having previous radiation therapy to the pelvis.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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