Endometriosis and Ovarian Cancer

1/10 women has endometriosis and they are at increased risk, about two to three times the baseline risk, for specific cancers associated with endometriosis.

Several studies have showing women with endometriosis are at risk for endometrioid type and other types of ovarian cancer as they age.

A Dutch study looked at over 130,000 women with proven endometriosis and evaluated their long term risk of ovarian cancer.

The average age of diagnosis of ovarian cancer was 56.

What was notable is that even as women aged into menopause, and no longer had specific symptoms of endometriosis their risk was increased.

This risk has a genetic link, and it’s due to the risk of malignant transformation of endometriosis. The cysts of endometriosis have iron (old blood with iron in it) and this can provide reactive oxygen species that can then mutae genes and produce cancer risk.

Removing an ovary, the fallopian tubes, and the uterus all reduce eventual risk of ovarian cancer.

If you have an endometrioma it needs to either be removed, or watched very closely for 5 years.

It’s important to know there are many strategies for reducing the long term risk of ovarian cancer. If you had infertility, a suspicion of endometriosis, or a history of chronic pelvic pain, you may be at increased risk for ovarian cancer.

Specifically, you should not skip yearly gynecologic visits, and have on going conversations about what monitoring, or interventions would be right for you.

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Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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