If you have any of the factors that put you at risk for endometrial cancer, what can you do? The best thing you can do is to lower your risk in areas you can control. You can make some general lifestyle changes to reduce your risk:
Eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight. Limit the fat in your diet. Eat a moderate amount of a variety of foods. Get regular physical activity. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, work with your health care team to manage your condition. Your plan may include diet, exercise, and even medication. These steps will all help keep your weight within a healthy range. Endometrial cancer is up to 3 1/2 times as common in overweight and obese women. A major risk factor for endometrial cancer is obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Consider taking birth control pills. Going through pregnancy helps protect you from endometrial cancer. So if you don’t plan to have children, you may want to consider taking birth control pills. Birth control pills can provide benefits similar to being pregnant. Birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progesterone help maintain a healthy balance of these hormones in your uterus. Taking combination oral contraceptives is associated with a decreased risk of developing endometrial cancer. This decreased risk continues for at least 10 years even after you stop taking birth control pills.
Consider an intrauterine device (IUD). Women with IUDs that do not contain hormones seem to have a lower risk of this cancer. Having an IUD with progesterone may also decrease your risk of endometrial cancer.
Monitor and treat endometrial hyperplasia. If you have precancerous changes of the endometrium, talk to your doctor about whether you should have screening tests done to monitor the changes and/or if they need to be treated.
Review your hormone replacement strategy. Perhaps you have already gone through menopause. If so, you may use estrogen replacement therapy to help deal with the changes in your body. Use the lowest dose of hormones possible for the shortest amount of time. Talk with your doctor about taking progesterone along with estrogen. Using just estrogen without progesterone can lead to endometrial cancer if you still have your uterus. If symptoms of menopause have subsided, you may be able to reduce or stop hormone replacement therapy.
Talk with your doctor about your risk. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, make sure you talk about your risk for endometrial cancer with your doctor. One type of hormone therapy used for breast cancer, tamoxifen, increases your risk for endometrial cancer. Ask your doctor if there are other choices of treatment to consider and/or what symptoms you should watch for.