Women with endometriosis have an increased risk of developing either ovarian, kidney or thyroid cancer, say French researchers at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, Lyon, France.

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Researchers warn that endometriosis could raise cancer risk.

The researchers, led by Dr. Anna-Sofia Melin, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, examined data on 63,630 women who had endometriosis. They found that endometriosis was linked to a higher risk of developing certain types of tumor. They also found that the number of children a woman has had does not seem to influence her cancer risk, even if she has had no children.

Dr Melin said “It could be that defects in the immune system allow the endometriosis to grow and also might allow cancer cells to grow in different parts of the body. Maybe the treatment of endometriosis can influence cancer development. We do not know yet.”

Dr. Melin and team doubt that the fertility problems brought on by endometriosis raise cancer risk.

The scientists found endometriosis raised the risk of developing the following types of tumors:

— Ovarian tumors – 37% greater risk
— Endocrine tumors – 38% greater risk
— Kidney tumors – 36% greater risk
— Thyroid tumors – 33% greater risk
— Brain tumors – 27% greater risk
— Malignant melanoma – 23% greater risk
Breast cancer – 9% greater risk
Surprisingly, women with endometriosis seem to have a 29% lower risk of developing cervical cancer.

Dr. Melin said “Our hope is that doctors in general start to view the endometriosis disease as a serious disease that causes a lot of suffering to the patient and also may lead to cancer.”

What is Endometriosis?

It is a medical condition caused by the lining of the womb growing elsewhere in the body, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and abdominal cavity – other areas can be affected, such as the bladder, bowel, vagina, cervix and vulva. It affects about 15% of women of reproductive age – in advanced cases it can leave women infertile.

The misplaced tissue develops into lesions or growths which respond to the menstrual cycle, as does the tissue of the uterine lining – on a monthly basis the tissue builds up, breaks down and sheds. The blood from the misplaced tissue, however, has no way of leaving the body. The patient experiences internal bleeding, inflammation, bowel problems, infertility and scar tissue formation.

It is a painful, chronic disease which affects 5.5 million women/girls in Canada/USA.

Symptoms of Endometriosis?

— Painful period
— Pain before period
— Painful sex
— Infertility
— During periods urination is painful
— During periods bowel movements are painful
— Nausea, diarrhea, constipation
— Yeast infection

23rd Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (resource no longer available at www.eshre.com)

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today