Newswise — TAMPA, Fla. – Women who had bariatric surgery to lose weight had a 70 percent lower risk of uterine cancer and an even lower risk if they kept the weight off, according to findings of a study based on more than 7 million hospital admissions being presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer in Tampa, Fla., March 22-25. The research will be published in a special issue on gynecologic cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship in obese women in the April edition of the journal Gynecologic Oncology.
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 – which occurs in the inner lining of the uterus – accounts for 95 percent of uterine cancers. 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.”
Researchers analyzed information from more than 7 million admissions of women to one of more 392 U.S. nonprofit academic medical centers or affiliated hospitals between Jan. 1, 2009 and June 1, 2013. Of those, 103,797 had previously had bariatric surgery and 424 (.4 percent) were diagnosed with uterine cancer. Of the 832,372 who were considered obese and had not previously undergone bariatric surgery, 11,729 (1.4 percent) were diagnosed with uterine cancer. In other words, obese women who had bariatric surgery were 3-1/2 times less likely to get uterine cancer than women who had not had the surgery. Among the nearly 6.5 million admissions of non-obese women who had not previously had bariatric surgery, 32,192 (.5 percent) 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 percent, the risk reduction was 81 percent 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 Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) is a 501(c)6 national medical specialty organization of physicians and allied health care professionals who are trained in the comprehensive management of women with malignancies of the reproductive tract. The Society’s membership, totaling more than 1,800, is primarily comprised of gynecologic oncologists, as well as other related medical specialists including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses, social workers and pathologists. SGO members provide multidisciplinary cancer treatment including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and supportive care. www.sgo.org.