There is no known way to completely prevent uterine (endometrial) cancer, the most common cancer of the female reproductive system. However, researchers have identified several factors that may decrease a woman’s risk of developing cancer in her uterus and help her stay healthy.
How can I lower my risk of uterine cancer?
Uterine cancer prevention centers on maintaining a healthy balance between two hormones: estrogen and progestin. Too much estrogen in the body can increase the likelihood of cellular overgrowth, which can contribute to the development of malignancies. With your physician’s guidance, you might consider trying these methods to lower your risk of uterine cancer:
- Losing excess body weight – In women, excess fatty tissue can produce a surplus of estrogen. Also, individuals who are overweight have a higher risk of developing cancer in general.
- Using birth control pills or a progestin-secreting intrauterine device (IUD) – These contraceptives provide controlled levels of both estrogen and progestin to help maintain a hormonal balance.
On the other hand, certain factors have been shown to negatively affect the health of the uterus. For instance, consuming a diet high in animal fats can contribute to uterine cancer growth, as can an estrogen/progestin imbalance related to hormone replacement therapy. Additionally, women who started menstruating before age 12 or experienced menopause after age 55 have an increased risk of developing uterine cancer.
It is important to note that having one or more risk factors does not necessarily mean you will develop uterine cancer. Also, it is still possible to experience uterine cancer even if none of these factors apply to you. The best way to protect yourself is to become familiar with the symptoms of uterine cancer – which include new or unusual vaginal bleeding, painful urination and pelvic discomfort – and to promptly seek treatment if they occur.
If you would like to consult with a gynecologic cancer expert about uterine cancer prevention, consider visiting Moffitt Cancer Center. Moffitt’s multispecialty team provides a full spectrum of uterine cancer screening tests, as well as hysterectomies for women who elect to remove their uterus as a preventive measure. Contact Moffitt at 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online to learn more.