Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Endometriosis Health Center

Font Size

Endometriosis Ups Risk of Other Cancers

Study Shows Higher Rates of 4 Cancers, Lower Risk of Cervical Tumors
WebMD Health News

July 2, 2003 -- Women with endometriosis face an increased risk of ovarian and three other types of cancer, but they seem to have a lower risk of developing cervical cancer, according to a new Swedish study.

These findings, presented today at the annual meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology, also indicate a small increase in risk for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, endocrine cancers, and brain tumors among women with endometriosis, a common gynecological condition that affects at least 5 1/2 million Americans and can cause infertility and pelvic pain. They also found that women with endometriosis who had undergone a hysterectomy had no higher rates of ovarian cancer.

"It is very important to keep these findings in perspective," researcher Anna-Sofia Berglund, MD, says in a prepared statement. "The overall risk of cancer does not increase after endometriosis, and where there are slightly increased risks, they are in some of the less common cancers."

Her findings result from reviewing records of women who had been discharged from a hospital with a diagnosis of endometriosis between 1969 and 2000 -- nearly 64,500 women. Their rates of cancer were then compared to all women listed in the National Swedish Cancer Register.

Berglund found that being diagnosed with endometriosis between ages 20 and 40 resulted in higher ovarian cancer rates than other age groups.

In the U.S., about 1 in 70 women will develop ovarian cancer during their lifetime, making it the most common of the four cancers in Berglund's study.

What Is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis affects between 7%-10% of all women and about 50% of premenopausal women, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Symptoms include painful cramps, heavy menstrual cycles, and pain during sex or during bowel movements; however, many women show no symptoms. It occurs when tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it -- typically on the surface of organs in the pelvic and abdominal areas. Endometriosis can be treated with surgery or hormone therapy.

Michael Thun, MD, head of epidemiological research for the American Cancer Society, says that Berglund's finding is intriguing -- and possibly important -- for several reasons.

Today on WebMD

Endometriosis Overview
mature woman with serious expression
Distracted woman
healthtool pregnancy calendar
pelivic pain slideshow
estrogen gene
uterus and inlay of fibroids
woman talking to doctor
Doctor discussing screening with patient
young woman with thoughtful expression
contraceptive pills
Teenage girl with heat pad on stomach

WebMD Special Sections