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Colorectal cancer risk increased with endometrial cancer

Reuters Health • The Doctor's Channel Daily Newscast

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Endometrial cancer is associated with an elevated risk of colorectal cancer, but not breast cancer, according to study results in the April issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

In the study, the age-standardized incidence rate of colorectal cancer in women with endometrial cancer was 0.7% — low but significantly higher than the 0.2% rate seen in the general population, Dr. Janice S. Kwon, from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and colleagues report.

The results also indicate that screening rates for colorectal cancer, as well as breast cancer, were roughly twice as high in women with endometrial cancer than in other women.

To assess the occurrence of secondary malignancies during follow-up for endometrial cancer, Dr. Kwon’s team analyzed data from 3473 women who were diagnosed with the malignancy in Ontario, Canada from 1996 to 2000. None of the women had a history of breast or colorectal cancer.

The 5-year recurrence and overall survival rates in the cohort were 15.0% and 79.3%, respectively. Follow-up care was typically provided by family physicians.

Although colorectal cancer was more likely to develop in study patients than in the general population, breast cancer was not. The age-adjusted incidence rates of breast cancer in the two groups were identical, 0.5%.

Screening rates for breast and colorectal cancer in the study group were 64.0% and 30.0%, respectively, compared with rates of 31.0% and 15.0% in the general population.

Age over 70 years and low income were both predictive of not receiving secondary cancer screening, the report shows.

“Over 44,000 women will be diagnosed with endometrial cancer this year in Canada and the US, and after 5 years approximately 35,000 of them will still be alive,” the authors point out. “These endometrial cancer survivors have specific health risks that need to be addressed during their follow-up to maximize long-term survivorship.”

Obstet Gynecol 2009;113:790-795.