03:48am Monday 18 November 2019

Hormonal contraceptives and having children reduces uterine cancer risk for women with Lynch syndrome

Taking hormonal contraceptives and having children are associated with a lower risk of uterine cancer for women with Lynch syndrome, a University of Melbourne research team has found.

On average, one in three women with Lynch syndrome are expected to develop uterine cancer.

A paper published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association led by 

Dr Aung Ko Win, Dr S.Ghazaleh Dashti and colleagues from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, reveals that women with one child are 60 per cent less likely to develop uterine cancer, compared with women with no children.

The risk is even lower for women with more than one child.

Women with Lynch syndrome have a genetic mutation that gives them a high risk of cancers. And at least one in 1000 women has a mutation in one of the genes associated with Lynch syndrome. 

Until now, there was almost no information to indicate which women with Lynch syndrome were most likely to develop uterine cancer. Almost nothing is known about whether or not lifestyle and hormonal factors modify their risk. The only way to prevent the disease is removal of the uterus.

The study also found that women with Lynch syndrome who have used hormonal contraceptives for at least one year have half the risk of developing uterine cancer compared with women who have not used hormonal contraceptives. In this study, hormonal contraceptives included various methods such as birth control pills, injection, implants, and intrauterine devices.

“Our findings show that the effects of hormonal factors for women with Lynch syndrome are similar to those for women from the general population who do not have Lynch syndrome. Further studies will be needed to confirm the study findings,” said Dr Win.

“Women with Lynch syndrome may then be counselled like other women from the general population, regarding hormonal influences on uterine cancer risk.” 

This large study involved 1,128 women with a mutation that causes Lynch syndrome recruited into the Colon Cancer Family Registry from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. The University of Melbourne is one of the six administrative centres, Principal Investigator Professor Mark Jenkins.

About uterine cancer

  • Uterine cancer is the most common type of gynaecologic cancer in developed countries including Australia.
  • Over 2,200 Australian women are diagnosed with a uterine cancer every year.
  • Between 2 per cent and 5 per cent of all uterine cancers are associated with an underlying genetic condition, mainly Lynch syndrome.
  • Further studies are underway by this team to determine if other lifestyle factors are associated with uterine cancer risk for women with Lynch syndrome.
  • More Information

    Jane Gardner
    +61 3 8344 0181
    0411 785 984

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