Is Endometrial Cancer Genetic?

While endometrial (uterine) cancer is not passed down from mother to daughter, some families do have a higher risk of developing this malignancy – particularly families in which Lynch syndrome is common.

Lynch syndrome is typically caused by a defect in either the MLH1 or MLH2 gene, though defects in the MLH5, MSH6, PMS1, PMS2 and TGBR2 genes are known to cause Lynch syndrome as well. When these abnormal genes replicate, the body’s ability to regulate cell growth and repair damage to DNA becomes impaired, resulting in a higher risk of developing endometrial cancer. In fact, women with Lynch syndrome have a 40 to 60 percent chance of developing this malignancy at some point in their lives.

Other risk factors for endometrial cancer

In addition to the genetic risk factors mentioned above, there are a number of other factors that can increase a woman’s risk of developing endometrial cancer. In particular, factors that affect a woman’s hormone levels are particularly important in determining her risk level. For example, the chance of developing endometrial cancer is higher in women who:

  • Begin menstruating before age 12 and/or are still menstruating after age 55
  • Have polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Have had breast or ovarian cancer

Other risk factors for developing endometrial cancer include age, as the risk of cancer increases as a woman gets older; diabetes, as endometrial cancer is up to four times more common in women with this disease; and obesity, as having more fatty tissue increases a woman’s estrogen levels and therefore her risk of developing endometrial cancer.

If you are concerned about your risk of endometrial cancer or were recently diagnosed, Moffitt Cancer Center welcomes you. To request an appointment, fill out a new patient registration form online or call 1-888-663-3488. Referrals are unnecessary.