New resource for up-to-date information on endometrial cancer risks

Morgan Liotta

18/09/2019 3:52:08 PM

It is the fifth most common cancer for women in Australia, but around one third of all endometrial cancer diagnoses are potentially preventable.

Professor Dorothy Keefe
Professor Dorothy Keefe says the new website is a ‘single source of truth’ for assessing cancer risk factors.

A new online resource from Cancer Australia, Endometrial cancer risk factors, is designed to assist women of all ages to know what they can do to reduce their risk of endometrial cancer, as well as provide up-to-date preventive care resources for health professionals.
The website details information on factors associated with an increased or decreased risk of developing endometrial cancer, and those that are unproven to be associated with risk.
Cancer Australia CEO Professor Dorothy Keefe told newsGP the website is a centralised resource she hopes will be used by both health professionals and patients.
‘We’d like GPs to be aware that this website exists, and that we’ve put all the evidence together in one place for them ... to provide evidence-based information that can be trusted,’ she said.
‘It’s a single source of truth so they [health professionals and patients] don’t have to wade through huge numbers of papers. There’s one place they can find all the information.
‘Our population expects to have, and should have, easily accessible trusted and evidence-based information.’
The website also provides a list of factors previously thought to have contributed to endometrial cancer risk, which Professor Keefe assures are no longer of concern for women, or their GPs, when assessing for risk.
‘So for all those things people have previously worried about, we can now say, “There’s no evidence that that is a big deal ... we don’t have to worry about that anymore”,’ she said.
‘It’s providing information for women and doctors about what they actually should be concerned about and thinking about.’
Paracetamol and statin use, drinking tea and stress from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are some factors Professor Keefe lists as previously thought to be associated with endometrial cancer risk.
However, they are now either ‘unproven or unlikely’ to be associated with risk, she said.
Professor Keefe acknowledges that despite the fact some risk factors are non-modifiable, those that can be modified should be the focus of working towards change.
‘Many of the factors that increase risk of endometrial cancer are things women cannot change, [such as] the age of her first period and the age she entered menopause,’ she said.
‘But the good news is there are some that we can modify, and we think we can reduce the number of cases by about a third if we can modify all of them.
Modifiable risk factors build on the evidence that over one-quarter of endometrial cancer cases in Australia are associated with overweight or obesity, and around 6% can be attributed to insufficient physical activity.
‘A healthy weight and physical activity are good for people,’ Professor Keefe said.
‘We understand that maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity is a complex issue, but part of the evidence base is that yet another disease could be preventable by overcoming this issue.’
With the emphasis on prevention, Professor Keefe says the background work for the website was based on risk factors for diagnosis and looked at all the evidence for potentials causes of increased risk of endometrial cancer, and the protective or decreased factors.
‘That’s what the focus of this [website] is; it’s tailored for women who haven’t actually been diagnosed with endometrial cancer. It’s not a treatment website,’ she said.
‘We like to increase health literacy and assist both patients and GPs to do that. They can be assured that this evidence has been looked at rigorously.
‘They can trust what is on the website, and they can use this information to determine whether there is a risk or not a risk, whether it is increased or decreased.’
Professor Keefe is also hopeful that the site will in some way contribute to reduced cancer rates by providing up-to-date evidence.
‘If we could reduce the number of endometrial cancer cases by a third [as the research indicates], that’s 1000 cases a year we could over time prevent,’ she said.
‘It will take time, as prevention is a long-term strategy, but eventually if we could do that, it would be a great benefit for those women, and also for the healthcare system.’

cancer endometrial cancer preventive health women’s health

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Dr S W   19/09/2019 6:02:22 AM

I choked on my morning cuppa while reading this article.

The health promotion brigade promote drinking tea as protective against breast cancer yet this article advises that drinking tea may be a risk factor for endometrial cancer. What's a GP and their patient meant to do or discuss?

Is it any wonder that patients may tune-out health promotion advice when it is contradictory, let alone the suggestion of assigning blame to patients when it's as rudimentary and basic as tea-drinking?

Suzanna Bary   20/09/2019 12:36:28 PM

This article was of no use to anyone, no clear explanations to risk factors for endometrial cancer.
So to my understanding and reasoning if we reduce any form of vaginal and uterine infections specially candida and sexually transmitted disease then reduce use of OCP , which actually contain synthetic Oestrogen and Progestogens , which we know may increase risks of breast cancer so why can't it increase risk of endometrial cancer, we know all OCP interfere with normal menstrual cycle and normal cyclical fluctuation of levels of female hormones in the body. You don't need to be a genius to come to the conclusion that which ever interfere with biological processes in our body may and will cause havoc. What tea has to do with it?