What Causes Endometrial Cancer?

We don't yet know exactly what causes most cases of endometrial cancer, but we do know there are risk factors, like obesity and hormone imbalance, that are strongly linked to this cancer.

We know that most endometrial cancer cells have estrogen and/or progesterone receptors on their surfaces. Somehow, interaction of these receptors and these hormones leads to increased growth of the endometrium. This 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 cancer. Some of these are discussed in What's New in Endometrial Cancer Research?

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

American Society of Clinical Oncology. Uterine Cancer: Latest Research. 1/2019. Accessed at www.cancer.net/cancer-types/uterine-cancer/latest-research on January 31, 2019.

National Cancer Institute. Endometrial Cancer Prevention (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version, February 1, 2018. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/uterine/hp/endometrial-prevention-pdq#section/all on January 31, 2019.

Last Medical Review: March 27, 2019 Last Revised: March 27, 2019

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