The epidemiology of endometrial cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 1991 Apr;41(1):1-16. doi: 10.1016/0090-8258(91)90246-2.


The descriptive and analytical epidemiology of endometrial cancer is reviewed. Over the last few decades, age-standardized incidence rates have been rising in several countries. The rise has been even greater in terms of absolute numbers of cases, and hence public health implications, due to the aging of the population. Although endometrial cancer rates were found to be higher in richer countries and urban populations, there is now evidence of some changes in the socioeconomic determinants of the disease in developed countries. In etiological terms, any factor that increases exposure to unopposed estrogens (such as menopausal replacement treatment, obesity, and irregular menstrual cycles) tends to increase the risk of the disease, while factors that decrease exposure to estrogens or increase progesterone levels (such as oral contraceptives or smoking) tend to be protective. Less well defined, or more difficult to explain in biological terms, is the role of other factors, such as births, miscarriages, or diabetes and hypertension, and only suggestive evidence is available on diet from analytical epidemiology. The data reviewed herein are discussed in terms of models of carcinogenesis, as well as attributable risks and public health implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Factors
  • Uterine Neoplasms / epidemiology*