Uterine cancer refers to cancer that starts in the uterus. It is also called endometrial cancer because the lining of the uterus where the cancer starts is called the endometrium. While there are several types of uterine cancers, by far the most common type are called adenocarcinomas.
How Common Is Uterine Cancer?1
3% of new cancers diagnosed each year
Uterine cancer makes up 3% of all new cancer cases diagnosed in women in the US each year.
1 in 36 women
Approximately 1 in 36 women will develop uterine cancer in their lifetime.
As men do not have a uterus, they are not at risk for uterine cancer.
How Genetic Mutations Increase Uterine Cancer Risk
Women and ovarian uterine risk
Risk among US women to develop uterine cancer.
Certain medications, treatments, and medical conditions can increase risk.
For example, taking estrogen without any progesterone, taking Tamoxifen, and having radiation to the pelvic area increase uterine cancer risk.
Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine hyperplasia and non-cancerous ovarian tumors called granulosa cell tumors increase the risk of uterine cancer.
Obesity may increase risk.
Obesity has been linked to increasing uterine cancer risk because fat tissue can change certain hormones called androgens into estrogen. This increase in estrogen levels increases uterine cancer risk. Uterine cancer is twice as common in overweight women, and more than three times as common in obese women.
There are factors that can decrease risk.
Using oral contraceptives (birth control pills), using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control, having a lower body mass index (BMI), giving birth, and having a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) also reduce the risk of developing uterine cancer.
- SEER Cancer Statistics Factsheets: Female Breast Cancer. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, National Cancer Institute Website. Accessed April 7, 2015. Available at seer.cancer.gov.
- Endometrial cancer risk factors. American Cancer Society Website. Updated February 29, 2016. Available at www.cancer.org.