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Is There Any Connection Between Ovarian Cancer and Endometriosis?

As a part of our interview series with prominent medical professionals, we had the pleasure of interviewing Associate Professor, Co-Director of the Oxford Endometriosis CaRe centre, Chrisitan Becker MD. Previously, Dr. Becker told us about treatment options for endometriosis and adenomyosis. In this interview part, we asked him only one question: is there a connection between endometriosis and ovarian cancer?

There is but it is very small. Importantly, women need to know that the overall risk of developing ovarian cancer is very low.  It's clear that there is a slight increase in ovarian cancer in patients with endometriosis, but it is still very very small. Having endometriosis increases this risk minimally.

Also, there are 22 studies that we looked at and the risk ratio is 1.93. But it is difficult to combine the results as the individual studies were often very differently designed. This is called study heterogeneity. It is a problem. 

They have found evidence of publication bias because, obviously, we talk about these cases when you find ovarian cancer and endometriosis at the same time, but the vast majority of women don't have it. 

As I said, ovarian cancer itself is quite rare and therefore it's probably not really a clinical issue, we don’t say to a woman with endometriosis “You have to be worried about ovarian cancer”. However, clinicians should be aware of the potential association.

I think that definitely should be the message as well to our patients with endometriosis that they don’t have a high risk of having any other cancers but especially ovarian cancer. But the two subtypes of ovarian cancer: endometrioid and clear-cell seem to be associated with endometriosis. 

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