What are the risk factors for uterine sarcoma?
A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, exposing skin to strong sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer. Smoking is a risk factor for many cancers.
There are different kinds of risk factors. Some, such as your age or race, can’t be changed. Others may be related to personal choices such as smoking, drinking, or diet. Some factors influence risk more than others. But risk factors don't tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that a person will get the disease. Also, not having any risk factors doesn't mean that you won't get the disease.
Only a few factors are known to change the risk of developing a uterine sarcoma.
Pelvic radiation therapy
High-energy (ionizing) radiation used to treat some cancers can damage cells’ DNA, sometimes increasing the risk of developing a second type of cancer. If you have had pelvic radiation, your risk for developing uterine sarcomas is increased. These cancers usually are diagnosed 5 to 25 years after exposure to the radiation.
Uterine sarcomas are about twice as common in African-American women as they are in white or Asian women. The reason for this increased risk is unknown.
RB gene changes
Women who have had a type of eye cancer called retinoblastoma that was caused by being born with an abnormal copy of the RB gene have an increased risk of getting uterine leiomyosarcomas.
Remember, however, that these factors increase the risk for developing some uterine sarcomas, but they may not always cause the disease.
Last Medical Review: 05/12/2014
Last Revised: 02/15/2016