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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : Can a woman be at greater risk for developing uterine cancer after fibroid treatment?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Joan Marie Bengtson, M.D., is assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproduction at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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October 24, 2012
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A:

Women with fibroids — or who have had them — are not at greater risk of getting uterine cancer.

Fibroids are common, benign tumors of muscle tissue that grow in the wall of the uterus. In most women, fibroids cause no symptoms. And they do not need treatment. When there are symptoms, women may have lower abdominal pain or pressure, heavy periods and frequent urination.

You can relieve fibroid symptoms with medicine such as ibuprofen. If symptoms do not improve or if the fibroids grow rapidly, you may need to have them removed with surgery. A newer treatment can shrink fibroids by stopping blood flow to the tumor. This treatment is called uterine artery embolization.

Women who have high levels of estrogen compared with the amount of progesterone have a greater risk of uterine cancer.

Other risks for uterine cancer include:

  • A history of infertility
  • A history of obesity
  • Use of estrogen therapy
  • Use of tamoxifen to treat breast cancer
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure

Also — the risk of a rare type of uterine cancer called sarcoma is higher in women who have been exposed to high levels of radiation in the pelvis.

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