Endometriosis and cancer

Κωνσταντίνος Κυριακόπουλος Γυναικολόγος

Endometriosis is a very common gynaecological condition. According to the data 1 out of 10 women has some form of endometriosis. Τhis frequency classifies endometriosis as the second most common gynecological condition.

I have been diagnosed with endometriosis. Is this a risk for developing cancer?

It is very reasonable for someone to think that because endometriosis is related to various hormones as well as cellular changes , this could also be the cause of some form of carcinogenesis. But this is not quite true.

Presence of endometriosis doesn’t mean  an increased risk any some form of cancer. Until now the conclusions of several studies ,which try to find a relation between endometriosis with ovarian cancer or other forms of cancer, are ambiguous and there are different opinions inside the scientific community.

According to research, endometriosis has been linked with two types of ovarian cancer: «endometrioid» and «clear cell» type.

A woman with endometriosis is in more risk of  developing one of these two types of ovarian cancer than other women who don’t suffer from endometriosis.

That being said, the risk of a woman with endometriosis to develop one of the previous types of ovarian cancer is less than 1% which is very rare.

As far as other types of cancer are concerned, unfortunately research hasn’t reached safe conclusions. Some data indicate that women with endometriosis are in higher risk of developing breast cancer, melanoma or endometrial cancer but there are also other data that have not verified the above.

The good news is that women with endometrial seem to have less risk in developing cervical cancer in relation to women who don’t have endometriosis.

What does the latest research show?

According to latest research mutations that are observed in the above mentioned of variant types of cancer, are also observed in the endometriosis lesions which are in the pelvis. What is impressive here is the fact that  these mutations appear in specific patients. This observation might strengthen the scientific opinion that endometriosis is of course a benign condition, but can also be a precursor form of malignancy.

Treatment of endometriosis is a high specialized procedure which necessitates specific knowledge. Consultation with an endometriosis surgeon is the next most important step which can ensure that the patient will have the appropriate attention and treatment.