Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer

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Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

What causes endometrial cancer?

We do not yet know exactly what causes most cases of endometrial cancer, but we do know certain risk factors, particularly hormone imbalance, for this type of cancer. A great deal of research is going on to learn more about the disease.

We know that most endometrial cancer cells contain estrogen and/or progesterone receptors on their surfaces. Somehow, interaction of these receptors with their hormones leads to increased growth of the endometrium. This can mark the beginning of cancer. The increased growth can become more and more abnormal until it develops into a cancer.

As noted in the risk factors section, many of the known endometrial cancer risk factors affect the balance between estrogen and progesterone in the body.

Scientists are learning more about changes in the DNA of certain genes that occur when normal endometrial cells become cancerous. Some of these are discussed in "What's new in endometrial cancer research and treatment?"

Last Medical Review: 02/10/2016
Last Revised: 02/29/2016