Cancer Home > Cause of Uterine Cancer
Cancer of the uterus occurs mostly in women over 50 years of age.
The risk of uterine cancer is higher if a woman has endometrial hyperplasia, which is a condition that occurs when the lining of the uterus grows too much.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is sometimes used to control the symptoms of menopause. Women who use estrogen without progesterone have an increased risk of uterine cancer; long-term use and large doses of estrogen seem to increase the risk. Women who use a combination of estrogen and progesterone have a lower risk of uterine cancer than women who use estrogen alone because the progesterone protects the uterus. Women should discuss the benefits and risks of HRT with their doctor. Women who are taking HRT should have regular checkups, which may improve the chance that the doctor will find uterine cancer at an early stage if it does develop.
Obesity and Related Conditions
The body makes some of its estrogen in fatty tissue, which is why obese women are more likely to have higher levels of estrogen in their bodies than women who are at a healthy weight. High levels of estrogen may be the reason why obese women have an increased risk of developing uterine cancer. The risk of this disease is also higher in women with diabetes or high blood pressure, which are conditions that develop in many obese women.
Women taking the drug tamoxifen to prevent or treat breast cancer have an increased risk of uterine cancer. This risk appears to be related to the estrogen-like effect of this drug on the uterus. Doctors need to monitor women who are taking tamoxifen for possible signs and symptoms of uterine cancer. The benefits of this drug to treat breast cancer outweigh the risk of developing other cancers. However, all women who are considering tamoxifen should talk to their doctor about their concerns.
(Click Uterine Cancer Symptoms for more information.)