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.

These factors are known to change a woman's 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've had pelvic radiation, your risk for developing uterine sarcoma is increased. These cancers usually are diagnosed 5 to 25 years after you've been exposed 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 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 uterine leiomyosarcomas.

Remember, that these factors increase the risk for developing some uterine sarcomas, but they may not always cause the disease.

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.

Last Revised: November 13, 2017

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