Endometriosis may increase the risk of certain types of ovarian cancer, a new study suggests.
Researchers in the US found that women with a history of the womb disease were more likely to develop clear cell, endometrioid and low-grade serous cancers.
Previous research has indicated that endometriosis may be linked with an increased risk of epithelial ovarian cancer, the most dangerous and prevalent form of the disease.
But the latest findings suggest that the risk is limited to clear cell, endometrioid and low-grade serous cancers.
Endometriosis affects around one in 10 women of reproductive age.
While there is a strong link between endometriosis and certain forms of ovarian cancer, the majority of sufferers will not go on to develop cancer, the authors wrote.
But they believe that their findings could help medical staff identify women who may be more at risk of ovarian cancer.
They wrote: “Healthcare providers should be alert to the increased risk of specific subtypes of ovarian cancer in women with a history of endometriosis.”
Lead author Celeste Leigh Pearce, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, said: “This breakthrough could lead to better identification of women at increased risk of ovarian cancer and could provide a basis for increased cancer surveillance of the relevant population, allowing better individualisation of prevention and early detection approaches such as risk-reduction surgery and screening.”
- Pearce CL, et al. Association between endometriosis and risk of histological subtypes of ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of case—control studies. Lancet Oncology 2012; Advance online publication.