Link Between Cancer and Endometriosis

Hello fellow warriors,

I ask you to read this entire post before formulating your opinion. I know this is a touchy topic in the endometriosis community and I want to give all sides due justice. Today I will be speaking about the relation between endometriosis and multiple kinds of cancer, with a focus on clear cell and endometrioid ovarian carcinoma. I will be using only information published in scholarly articles and medical journals to avoid arguments. This is the raw data. The numbers throughout this post correlate to the study the information is from at the bottom of the page since FB can’t do superscripts.

There is an undeniable link between endometriosis and several forms of cancer. One article highlighting this link using an 11 year data analysis on 20,686 women who had surgically diagnosis of endometriosis. In this analysis women with long-standing history of endometriosis where near 1.3 times as likely to acquire breast cancer, up to 2.6 times l likely to acquire non-hodgkin’s lymphoma, and up to 7.7 times more likely to acquire ovarian (clear cell endometrial) cancer1. Another more recent study confirmed that women with endometriosis have an elevated risk of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma and ovarian cancer. It also found an increased risk for endocrine tumors and even brain tumors.2 In both of these papers the most significant increase in risk for women with endometriosis is ovarian clear cell endometrial carcinoma. There are more papers I have found in my research but these two basically get the point across.

Why do women with endometriosis have an increased risk of cancer? Well that is not well know yet. There is speculation it could be due to hormone imbalances, associated autoimmune disorders, scarring and tissue trauma, decreased number of births, and more. One study was done hypothesizing that lower parity(number of births) in women with endo could be what caused the increased risk of cancer but parity did not seem to make a difference.3 All women with endo seemed to have elevated risk irrelevant of weather or not they had given birth. So the reasoning behind why endometriosis can increase risks for multiple types of cancers is still unknown. However there have been many reported cases of malignant transformation of endometriosis. In one study 14% of women with endometrioid ovarian carcinoma were recorded as having had endometriosis that underwent malignant transformation.4 In another study 41% of clear cell ovarian tumors were associated with the malignant transformation of beginie endometriosis.5

Now I am not saying all this to terrify women with endometriosis. One of the reasons many Dr. don’t bring the topic up or say there is not enough information out there on it yet is because they don’t want women to panic. I even read one post by a Dr. saying he believes patients will erationaly pursue an oophorectomy cause their chance is slightly increased for cancer. Of course that is not what I am suggesting, unless you want a hysterectomy anyways or have other risk factors as well. That should be your choice! The reason I am presenting this information to you is to encourage you to be aware of the potential. Even if we were not at an increased risk I believe women with endometriosis need to be extra careful about reproductive cancers cause our symptoms are similar to and could mask symptoms of reproductive cancers.There are two tests that can detect endometrioid ovarian and clear cell carcinoma early. Both are safer than even a mammogram. A blood test and a vaginal ultrasound. If you have endometriosis you have likely already had similar procedures done! So be informed, self advocate, and give yourself some peace of mind. Some physicians may brush this topic under the rug but for us who have gone through cancer… We urge you to take this seriously. If every women can be told to get a mammogram it is perfectly reasonable for a group of women with a increased risk to ask for a blood test.

Also please note these cancers are not “endometriosis cancer” endometriosis in and of itself is not cancer. It can predispose you to, or even mutate into cancer but it is not cancer. There is a post going around talking about “endometriosis cancer”. It is presenting false data don’t share that bull! Share this scientifically back data so there is not misinformation.

So let’s stand together as educated proactive advocated for ourselves and each other so we don’t have to live in fear. If we fight for our health we can be strong and stand without fear of the cancer colored ribbons that could come knocking or already have.

1Cancer risk after a hospital discharge diagnosis of endometriosis. Brinton, Louise A. et al. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology , Volume 176 , Issue 3 , 572 - 579
2A. Melin, P. Sparén, I. Persson, A. Bergqvist; Endometriosis and the risk of cancer with special emphasis on ovarian cancer, Human Reproduction, Volume 21, Issue 5, 1 May 2006, Pages 1237–1242,
3A. Melin, P. Sparén, A. Bergqvist; The risk of cancer and the role of parity among women with endometriosis, Human Reproduction, Volume 22, Issue 11, 1 November 2007, Pages 3021–3026,
4Endometrioid adenocarcinoma of the ovary and endometriosis. Valenzuela, P. et al.European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology , Volume 134 , Issue 1 , 83 - 86
5Histologic Transformation of Benign Endometriosis to Early Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Sainz de la Cuesta, Ricardo et al. Gynecologic Oncology , Volume 60 , Issue 2 , 238 - 244

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