The polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder among women of reproductive age. The most common symptoms are multiple abnormal ovarian cysts, irregular menstruation, excessive hair growth and obesity. Today it is estimated that in every 10 women, 3 may be suffering from PCOS. This disorder is an inference of the lifestyle and hormonal imbalance.
Women who have never been pregnant have three times higher risk of developing uterine (endometrial) cancer as compared to the ones who have had childbirth.
Firstly, women with PCOS have low levels of progesterone and high levels of estrogen. Progesterone is the hormone responsible for the monthly shedding of the endometrium (innermost lining of the uterus) resulting in menstruation. Due to lack of progesterone, it is the continued exposure of estrogen to the endometrial (innermost) lining of the uterus which is known as endometrial hyperplasia (abnormal thickening of the uterine lining) . This endometrial hyperplasia if untreated over a period of time may eventually develop into endometrial cancer. The risk of uterine cancer is increased if the periods are fewer and highly irregular.
Co-morbidity of diseases can increase Uterine Cancer Risk:
Secondly, obesity, hypertension, elevated cholesterol levels and diabetes associated with PCOS are themselves a high-risk factor for developing uterine cancer. Women with PCOS are also at risk of developing breast cancer as the increased levels of insulin and abnormal lipid levels in PCOS can increase the risk of formation of breast cancer cells. There is also a potentially increased risk of the borderline ovarian tumors.
PCOS increases your Uterine Cancer risk:
Having PCOS does not mean you will surely develop endometrial cancer, but it does mean that you’re at an increased risk. If PCOS is left untreated it will lead to abnormal hormone levels resulting in increased risk for cancer. Use of oral contraceptives has shown a protective effect against ovarian and endometrial cancer. Also with regular exercise, healthy diet and weight reduction you can minimize your endometrial cancer risk, even if you have PCOS. Hence, screening for diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and endometrial hyperplasia or cancer should be the mainstay of care for women with PCOS.