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Bariatric Surgery May Lower Risk of Uterine Cancer

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Key Points

  • Obese women are two to four times more likely to develop endometrial cancer than those of normal weight.
  • Obese women who had bariatric surgery were 3.5 times less likely to get uterine cancer than women who had not had the surgery.
  • Having bariatric surgery reduced the risk of getting uterine cancer by 71%, and the risk reduction was 81% among women who had bariatric surgery and maintained a normal weight.

Women who had bariatric surgery to lose weight had a 70% lower risk of uterine cancer and an even lower risk if they kept the weight off, according to findings presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer, held in Tampa, Florida, from March 22 to 25.

Uterine cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs, affecting about 50,000 women in 2013, according to the National Cancer Institute. Endometrial cancer accounts for 95% of uterine cancers, and about half of all cases of endometrial cancer can be traced to obesity. Obese women are two to four times more likely to develop endometrial cancer than those of normal weight.

“We found that after women had bariatric surgery, their risk of uterine cancer plummeted and became the same or perhaps even a little less than in women who were not obese,” said Kristy Ward, MD, lead author and gynecologic oncologist at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

“Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death, and this research adds to the growing evidence that reducing obesity reduces cancer. We need to focus on finding ways to help women lose weight, and for appropriate patients, bariatric surgery may be an option,” she said.

Study Details

Researchers analyzed information from more than 7 million admissions of women from U.S. nonprofit academic medical centers or affiliated hospitals between January 1, 2009, and June 1, 2013. Of those, 103,797 had previously had bariatric surgery and 424 (0.4%) were diagnosed with uterine cancer. Of the 832,372 who were considered obese and had not previously undergone bariatric surgery, 11,729 (1.4%) were diagnosed with uterine cancer. In other words, obese women who had bariatric surgery were 3.5 times less likely to get uterine cancer than women who had not had the surgery. Among the nearly 6.5 million admissions of nonobese women who had not previously had bariatric surgery, 32,192 (0.5%) were diagnosed with uterine cancer.

The benefit of bariatric surgery was even more pronounced among women who were able to keep the weight off. While just having bariatric surgery reduced the risk of getting uterine cancer by 71%, the risk reduction was 81% among women who had bariatric surgery and maintained a normal weight.

Approximately 200,000 people have bariatric surgery every year to lose weight. Most of them are significantly overweight, often as much as 100 pounds above their ideal weight. There are several types of bariatric surgery, which either limit the amount of food the stomach can hold or bypass part of the small intestine, limiting the calories the body can absorb. The study didn’t differentiate between types of bariatric surgery.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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