What increases my risk of womb cancer?

overweight older woman

The cause of womb cancer is unknown. But there are certain things called risk factors that can increase your chance of developing the disease. These include:

  • Age: It is more common in women after the menopause between the ages of 50 and 64.
  • Being overweight: If you are overweight, your risk of womb cancer is increased.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): If you are taking oestrogen-only HRT for a long time after the menopause, your risk of womb cancer is slightly increased.
  • Family history: Family history of womb cancer in a first degree relative (mother, sister, daughter). If you have an inherited faulty gene, it raises your risk of developing womb or bowel cancer. In a small number of families, this faulty gene can cause a condition called Lynch Syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC)).
  • No pregnancies: If you have not had children or never been pregnant, your risk of womb cancer is increased.
  • Polycystic ovaries: If you have polycystic ovaries, your risk is increased. This is a condition where cysts grow in the ovaries.
  • Menstrual history: If your started your periods early in life and / or started your menopause later, your risk is higher. 

Having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will definitely get cancer. Sometimes people with no risk factors get the disease. If you’re worried, talk to your GP or talk to one of our cancer nurses. Call the Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700 or visit a Daffodil Centre.

Tamoxifen

Taking tamoxifen for breast cancer can slightly increase your risk of womb cancer. However, the benefit of taking tamoxifen for your breast cancer overrides the small risk associated with cancer of the womb. But it is important if you are taking tamoxifen to tell your doctor if you have any unexpected vaginal bleeding or bleeding after your periods have stopped.

Reducing your risk of womb cancer

Things you can do to reduce your risk of womb cancer include:

  • Keeping a healthy weight for your height
  • If you are taking HRT, ask your GP if the type of HRT you are taking is linked to a higher risk of womb cancer.

Read more about these and other cancer risk-reduction tips

For more information

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