Endometriosis = Cancer?

The big question a woman may ask her gynecologist after being diagnosed with endometriosis is, “will this turn into cancer?” And if your doctor is like mine, he/she will give a reassuring “no” and smile.

Yet researchers have been saying since 2003 that women who have ovarian endometriosis, as seen in the picture below, and do not get it treated via laparoscopy or with hormone therapy to starve off the tissue, have an increased risk of having their endometriosis turn into cancer.

ovarian_endometriosis_thumb_big1As you can see, there are chocolate cysts on the ovary and other signs of endometriosis.

 The researchers at Tottori University School of Medicine in Nishimachi, Japan presented a case of a 23 year-old woman who underwent surgery for an endometrioma in their October 15, 2003,  submission to Gynecological Oncology. At time of surgery she also present with a high serum CA 125 level. Now, it isn’t uncommon for endometriosis patients to have high CA 125 levels, especially with endometriomas. Perhaps, this is cause of the correlation? Then 14 months later, the same patient presents with ovarian cancer. The article states: “Histological examination revealed endometrioid adenocarcinoma with transitions between endometriosis and adenocarcinoma.” The researchers conclude that patients presenting with endometrial cysts  and high CA 125 serum levels should be watched – even if they are young.

** Reason #(who keeps count anymore) why I’m switching gyno’s: I had a “suspicious” cyst that persisted for over a year. Even though it never grew, it was thick walled. It concerned my doctor enough that she was willing to take the ovary, yet she never once did a CA 125 test. I plan on printing the article I will be linking to in a moment out and taking it to my next gyno – especially since I’ve been in “I have a cyst on that darn left ovary AGAIN!!!” grief” since Thursday.**

You can find the article here: Ovarian endometrioid adenocarcinoma arising from endometriosis in a young woman

And from the abstract of the article “GSTM1 null polymorphism and susceptibility to endometriosis and ovarian cancer” as published in the January 2001 Oxford Press journal, Carcinogenesis, researchers S.W. Baxter, E.J. Thomas and I.G. Campbell write:

It is likely that heritable genetic factors contribute to thedevelopment of endometriosis, which is a putative precursorof the endometrioid and clear cell histological subtypes ofovarian cancer. The phase II glutathione S-transferases (GSTs)are a family of enzymes responsible for metabolism of a broadrange of xenobiotics and carcinogens. Allelic variants of GSTsthat have impaired detoxification function may increase therate of genetic damage and thereby increase the susceptibilityto cancer. The null genetic polymorphism in the gene encodingthe GST class µ (GSTM1) enzyme has been reported to besignificantly elevated in endometriosis patients and may representan endometriosis susceptibility allele. (Taken from the abstract) (GST stands for glutathione).

If you have a cyst that persists, is bothersome, grows, or just worries you – especially if you have known ovarian endometriosis – ask your doctor for an extensive work-up of ultrasound, with possible MRI, and a CA-125 cancer marker blood test. These test may save your life! If there is any doubt, a good doctor wouldn’t take risks, they would put you in for a lap to get a visual. ALWAYS follow your intuition even if your doctor says “don’t worry, it’s nothing.” It’s worth it to keep your sanity – your peace of mind… and possibly your life.



9 responses to “Endometriosis = Cancer?

  1. It seems u have read my mind. This is the exact subject.I was researching today. I have a few changing symptoms. That has me wondering. Last time I added new problems to my list. The Doctor did nothing. But tell me this was normal for endo. Yet sites tell me to talk to my doctor. Do you ever have problems with your liver?

    • The only problems I had with my liver was when I was pregnant. Those presented with severe, entire body itching.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this.
    I had a 4cm ovarian cyst on my left ovary in November, 2008. I had laparoscopy over a year prior, in February 2007 in which endo was found on my left ovary. In fact, my left ovary had been so covered in adhesions that the ovary was wrapped around and stuck to the back of my uterus. When the cyst was found, my doctor told me to give it 6 weeks. Like hell!!! I called several times a week until they relented and gave me my followup…4 weeks later. The cyst had shrunk to 1.6cm but I was still suffering nausea, moderate to severe low back pain and even vertigo. I was never given a CA-125. I will push for it.

  3. Pingback: DIY Projects » Blog Archive » Endometriosis = Cancer? « Endometriosis : the Silent Life Sentence

  4. I was found that i had ovarin cysts on my right and left ovarie when i was pregnant in 2005. My gyn said it was normal and will go after i have my daughter. I had a csection w her. And after had multiple surguries where they had to remove the cyst. They came back. And found that have amount of scar tissue on my scars. Went back to surgerie they found i had the cysts again and endometrioses. Had surgerie again my cysts came back and iam now still suffering with them and am in more pain then ever. I talked to my gyn to do a histerectamy and she said no that im too young i was only 21years old. Now im 24 years old and me and my husband desided that its the best for my health. What can i do in this matter?

  5. I just came back from the emergency room tonight. My doctor ordered a CAT Scan because she believed I had a cyst on my ovary. Well I did . . . the size of a small golf ball. But they also found that I had a thick wall and am thinking it may be endometrosis cancer They ran tests to be sure the thick walling was not an inflammation of something and the CA125 which I do not know the results yet.. I am suppose to see a OBGN ASAP next week and she will be doing a D & C. Any suggesions? I really do not want to wind up with having to have a hysterectomy, even though I am 54. Any suggestions? I know I am scared.

    • Annie,

      Do your research and go into the meeting (if you haven’t already seen the doctor) with a battery of questions. Make sure all of your questions are answered before you leave!

  6. I was about 14 and I still hadn’t start my period yet, since I was started to develop into my womanhood…but I had the bad cramps. Mom took my to my Ped’s (doc) which just said that I was having growing pains and I was getting to start, and came me pills to help me start my period. By the time I was 15 the cramps were so bad I was unable to get out of bed, I dreaded having to going to the bathroom because…urinating and having a BM was so painful. Through December of 85 to February of 86 of was in the the hospital…I first had to get a muscle graphing to reconstruct my vagina, which they took the muscle from the inside of my left leg, which they reconstructed from the opening of the vagina to the opening of my cervix. My OBGYN doc said that I may had started my period when I was 12, but because there was no way for the blood to come out it just kept backing up, and they didn’t know how bad the damage was…but I did have a sever case of endometriosis. But at 15, I still ended up having a hysterectomy. The blood had swollen my uterus to make it look like I was 3 month pregnant, the blood had also destroyed my tubes and ovaries. With CA in my family even with this behind my CA is still in the back of my mind. I was on hormonal replacement therapy for a while until I started getting lumps in my breast…Now my abdomen is painful again and it has enlarge twice a big as normal, but doctor says it’s IBS…I’m I just being worried for no reason?

  7. I was 13 when i started my periods and was in so much pain i was not able to go to school most days. i went to my local doctors and they says that i had to give it time for my periods to settle so i waited 2 years and my periods were not normal like everyone elses i was getting them between 2-4 times a month they where so bad that i had to change every hour i dreaded going to school with my periods. i starting working and the periods where getting worse and worse so they refered me into a gyno at one hospital an was told i had a 6cm cyst on my right overy and was told it was most likely endometriosis so i had to come back in for a consiltation. weeks and weeks went buy i had not herd anything so i went back to my local doctors and explained to them what happened and the they refered me into a diffrent hospital under a diffrent gyno once he has seen what was wrong he took me in for a operation and i got hom,e 2 days later but was told that it will come back am 19 years old and so scared to go into the hospital incase they tell me its cancer. it has happened it happened to my friend she was getting treated it still turned into cancer.

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