Surgical treatment for endometriosis was found to lower the risk of developing ovarian cancer, finds study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, a journal of the Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology, hormonal treatments for endometriosis did not lower ovarian cancer risk.
Endometriosis is a common, and often painful, gynecological disease where tissue normally found inside the uterus, grows elsewhere in the body. According to the World Health Organization this estrogen-dependent disease affects roughly 14% of women of childbearing age. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that more than 5.5 million women in North America have endometriosis, and if left untreated can cause infertility in up to 40% of women who are unable to conceive.
Prior research shows an increased risk of several cancers, including ovarian cancer, in women with endometriosis. Some studies have found a protective effect against ovarian cancer with surgical interventions, such as hysterectomy or tubal ligation. Lead author, Dr. Anna-Sofia Melin from the Karolinska Institute and Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden explains, "Patients with endometriosis are typically treated with hormones, or in more severe cases, with surgery. We wanted to expand understanding of ovarian cancer risk in women with endometriosis who had some type of surgery or hormone therapy."
Findings indicate a significant association between the surgical removal of an ovary (oophorectomy) and ovarian cancer risk. A significant link between ovarian cancer risk and radical removal of all visible endometriosis was also found. "Our study suggests that surgical removal of an ovary and removal of visible endometriosis protects women from developing ovarian cancer at a later point," concludes Dr. Melin. "For women with endometriosis, the role of hormonal treatment and future ovarian cancer risk remains unclear and further investigation is warranted."