(HealthDay News) – Uterine cancer deaths have been increasing in the United States, particularly among Black women. Now, research appears to pinpoint a cause.
A rare but aggressive type of cancer known as Type 2 endometrial cancer is more difficult to treat and was responsible for 20% of cases and 45% of deaths identified in the study.
Deaths from this type of cancer increased by 2.7% per year during the eight years the study focused on, while deaths from a less aggressive uterine cancer remained stable. Therefore, uterine cancer death rates increased by 1.8% per year from 2010 to 2017 for women aged 40 and older.
The increases were more profound for women from certain racial and ethnic minority groups.
For example, rates increased by 6.7% annually for Hispanic women, 3.5% for Black women, 3.4% for Asian women and 1.5% for white women, after adjusting for hysterectomy rates, which vary by race. Women cannot get uterine cancer after hysterectomy, where their uterus is removed.
For Black women, rates were already high. The study found they had more than twice the rate of deaths from uterine cancer overall, and of the more aggressive cancer, compared to other racial and ethnic groups.
While obesity is considered a risk factor for less aggressive uterine cancer, there is no clear risk factor for the more aggressive cancer, said Megan Clarke, who led the study for the National Cancer Institute.
“We think it is something that is more common in Black women and increasing in the population for all women,” Clarke told the Associated Press. “It’s very puzzling and concerning.”
More than 65,000 new cases of uterine cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. About 12,550 women will die from the disease. Though irregular bleeding can signal a problem, no recommended screening exists, the AP reported.
The findings were published in JAMA Oncology.
“For most cancers, there have been improvements over the last 20 years. It’s alarming that we haven’t had the same success with uterine cancer,” Dr. Pamela Soliman, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, told the AP. She was not involved in the study.
“This allows us to focus our efforts on specific areas that could potentially have a bigger impact on mortality,” Soliman added.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on uterine cancer.
SOURCE: Associated Press
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