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Ovarian cancer risk higher with endometriosis

Louise Prime

Thursday, 23 February 2012

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Women who have had endometriosis are at higher risk of certain types of ovarian cancer, shows an analysis published Online First in The Lancet Oncology. A history of endometriosis was associated with a doubled or even tripled risk of developing certain subtypes of ovarian cancer.

Researchers from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium analysed 13 case-control studies that between them included more than 23,000 women, to investigate associations between five different types of ovarian cancers(high-grade serous, low-grade serous, clear cell, endometrioid, and mucinous carcinomas), and self-reported history of endometriosis.

They found no link between endometriosis and either high-grade serous, mucinous, serous borderline, or mucinous borderline ovarian cancers. However, a history of endometriosis more than tripled women’s risk of developing clear-cell ovarian cancers, and conferred a doubled risk of low-grade serous endometrial cancers and of endometrioid cancers.

The authors have suggested that healthcare professionals should be aware of the higher risk of certain types of ovarian cancer in their patients with a history of endometriosis – and that women with endometriosis might even be subject to increased cancer surveillance.

Charlie Gourley, from the University of Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre, wrote in his accompanying Comment: “Although the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer shown by the results … is perhaps not in itself sufficient to justify targeted ovarian-cancer screening of patients with a history of endometriosis, the fact that some of the associated histological subtypes (eg, clear-cell) predominantly present at an early stage (allowing possible curative resection) makes this a consideration.”

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