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Endometriosis is a disorder in which cells from the lining of the uterus grow in other areas of the body. It affects about 10 percent of women of reproductive age.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 23,000 women in 13 studies and found that those with a history of endometriosis had a more than threefold increased risk of clear-cell ovarian cancers, a more than two-fold increased risk of endometrioid tumors, and a twofold increased risk of low-grade serous ovarian cancers.
There was no link between endometriosis and increased risk for high-grade serous, mucinous, serous borderline, or mucinous borderline ovarian cancers.
The study is published online Feb. 22 in The Lancet Oncology.
"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 individualization of prevention and early detection approaches such as risk-reduction surgery and screening," lead author Celeste Leigh Pearce, at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, said in a journal news release.
Despite the seeming association, the risk of a woman with endometriosis developing ovarian cancer is small, and the study did not show a cause-and-effect relationship.
"Although we have reported strong associations between endometriosis and risk of clear-cell, endometrioid, and low grade serous ovarian cancers, most women with endometriosis do not develop ovarian cancer," Pearce and her colleagues said. "However, health care providers should be alert to the increased risk of specific subtypes of ovarian cancer in women with a history of endometriosis."
-- Robert Preidt
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