Endometriosis is often compared to cancers that affect the female reproductive system, such as ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. This is because both endometriosis and reproductive cancers are characterized by cell invasion and abnormal cell growths. However, endometriosis is not cancer, and the growths associated with endometriosis are benign.
Endometriosis is characterized by the growth of normal tissue that is usually found in the lining of the uterus, known as endometrial tissue, on the outside of the uterus or on nearby reproductive organs. Endometriosis is a medical condition that features symptoms that may be similar to those of cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancer symptoms, and for this reason the conditions are often linked. Endometriosis does not lead to cancer; however, some medical research suggests that endometriosis may slightly increase the risks of cancer in women.
Endometriosis and The Risk of Cancer
Recent medical research has found that women with endometriosis may be at a slightly increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. This includes ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, endocrine cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and breast cancer. However, the increase in risk is small, and is especially so when considering some of the low risks of developing certain types of ovarian and uterine cancers in the population as a whole.
Breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are associated with non-ovarian endometriosis, while a slight increase in the risk of developing ovarian cancer is associated with ovarian endometriosis. Women who have undergone a hysterectomy as part of endometriosis treatment were not found to be at the same increased risk of developing cancer.
One of the potential risk factors associated with both ovarian and uterine cancer is reduced fertility. A woman’s chances of developing ovarian cancer decreases by 20% with each successful pregnancy. Since one of the most common symptoms of endometriosis is infertility, this becomes associated with an increased risk of developing cancer.
It is important to keep in mind that the connection between endometriosis and cancer is not well understood, and requires further medical research.
There are two types of ovarian cancer, which occur in two to three percent of all women. The most common form of ovarian cancer is known as epithelial adenocarcinoma. The least common type of ovarian cancer is known as endometrioid clear-cell adenocarcinomas, and is more frequently found in women with endometriosis. This type of ovarian cancer occurs in one to two percent of all ovarian cancer cases.
Some endometriosis symptoms that are also common signs of ovarian cancer include pelvic pain, painful intercourse, bloating, irregular menstruation, and bleeding, changes or discomfort associated with urination, bowel movements and digestion.
It is important to seek proper diagnosis and regular examinations from a health professional in order to determine the cause of symptoms common to endometriosis and ovarian cancer, since early detection is the key to successful treatment and maintaining your health.
Uterine Cancer and Endometrial Cancer
Uterine cancer is a broad term that refers to any cancer of the uterus or womb, including cervical cancer and endometrial cancer.
Endometrial cancer is the cancer in the lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium, which thickens every month in preparation for pregnancy, and is shed during menstruation. While both endometriosis and endometrial cancer involve complications in the growth of endometrial tissue, endometriosis growths are benign, while endometrial cancer growths are fatal.
Endometrial cancer accounts for 95% of uterine cancer cases. While the link between endometriosis and the risk of endometrial cancer remains inconclusive, and has only accounted for a small increase, some endometrial cancer symptoms are shared by endometriosis.
Some uterine cancer symptoms that are similar to endometriosis symptoms include pelvic pain, painful urination and intercourse, and unusual vaginal bleeding. Uterine cancer is most common in women experiencing menopause. However, any woman experiencing worrisome symptoms, and especially women with endometriosis, should consult a health professional to prevent the spread of endometrial cancer to other parts of the uterus.