According to the CDC, Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later. When cancer starts in the uterus, it is called uterine cancer. The uterus is the pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvis (the area below your stomach and in between your hip bones). The uterus, also called the womb, is where the baby grows when a woman is pregnant. The most common type of uterine cancer is also called endometrial cancer because it forms in the lining of your uterus, called the endometrium.
All women are at risk for uterine cancer, but the risk increases with age. Most uterine cancers are found in women who are going through or who have gone through menopause—the time of life when your menstrual periods stop.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT UTERINE CANCER
What is Uterine Cancer?
Uterine cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It develops in the uterus, or womb, which is the pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvis where babies grow during pregnancy.
The average age for a uterine cancer patient is 60 years old, and the disease is uncommon in women under 45, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says. One of the most common symptoms is abnormal vaginal bleeding, which may include a change in periods, bleeding between periods or bleeding after menopause.
While uterine cancer may form in different areas of the uterus, the most common type starts in the inner uterine lining, the endometrium. Endometrial cancer is often diagnosed early and treated with surgery alone. Cancer that forms in the cervix of the uterus is not considered a uterine cancer; instead, it’s called cervical cancer.
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our gynecologic oncology team uses evidence-based medicine to develop individualized treatment plans for each uterine cancer patient. Treatment plans may include surgery, chemotherapy or targeted therapy. Each patient’s treatment plan is tailored to her individual needs, including fertility-sparing surgery, which may be a potential option for women of child-bearing years. Your cancer care team may also include a dietitian, naturopathic provider and care manager. Our Survivorship Support program assists women who experience sexual side effects resulting from their treatment.
What causes uterine cancer?
As in so many areas of cancer research, the exact cause of uterine cancer isn’t known.
Many of the risk factors connected to endometrial cancer affect the balance between estrogen and progesterone hormones in the body, the ACS says. Scientists have found either estrogen or progesterone receptors—or both—on endometrial cancer cells. They suspect that some interaction between these receptors and the hormones may cause increased endometrium growth, with the abnormal cell growth eventually significant enough to lead to cancer.
Many factors may increase the risk of endometrial cancer or uterine sarcoma, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and other groups.
Obesity, which is linked to about 70 percent of uterine cancer cases
Elevated estrogen levels, which in some cases may be attributable to estrogen supplements in post-menopausal women or hormonal drugs being taken for other conditions>
Metabolic syndrome, such as some combination of high blood sugars, high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels and low levels of high-density lipoproteins in the blood
Genetics, including women whose families have a history of colon cancer, endometrial cancer or Lynch syndrome (a hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer)
Increased menstrual cycles, either with periods starting before age 12 or menopause starting after age 55
Tamoxifen, a drug used for treating breast cancer that acts as anti-estrogen in breast tissue but has the opposite effect in uterine tissue
Endometrial hyperplasia, such as a thickening in the lining of the uterus
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Pelvic radiation therapy
No prior pregnancies
There is no known way to prevent uterine cancer, the CDC says, but some things may reduce your chance of getting the disease. One is having decreased estrogen levels, such as during pregnancy. Factors that may lower a woman’s risk of uterine cancer also include:
Using birth control pills
Maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active
Taking progesterone if you’re also taking an estrogen supplement
Who gets uterine cancer?
Uterine cancer is most common in women over the age of 50, usually during or after menopause. While white women are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease, African-American women are more likely to have advanced uterine cancer and—along with Hispanic women—more aggressive tumors. Obese women also are at significantly higher risk of uterine cancer.
About 3.1 percent of women will be diagnosed with uterine cancer at some point during their lifetime, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) says. The ACS estimates that around 66,570 new cases of the cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2021.
Uterine cancer types
The types of uterine cancer fall into two main categories:
Adenocarcinoma, or endometrial cancer, which makes up more than 90 percent of uterine cancers. It develops in cells in the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus. A common subtype of this cancer is endometrioid carcinoma. Other less common subtypes include serous adenocarcinoma, adenosquamous carcinoma, uterine clear-cell carcinoma and uterine carcinosarcoma (a mix of adenocarcinoma and sarcoma).
Uterine sarcoma, which develops in the myometrium—the uterine muscle or wall—or in the supporting tissues of the uterine glands. Endometrial sarcoma subtypes include uterine leiomyosarcoma, endometrial stromal sarcoma and undifferentiated sarcoma.
Uterine cancer symptoms
Uterine cancer is often detected early because of abnormal vaginal bleeding, which occurs in about 90 percent of women with endometrial cancer.
Other symptoms of endometrial cancer may include:
Difficult or painful urination
Pain during intercourse
Unusual vaginal discharge that does not have signs of blood
Pain and/or a mass in the pelvic area
Unintentional weight loss
Other symptoms for a uterine tumor may include:
A lump or growth in the vagina
Feeling full at all times
Diagnosing uterine cancer
The following procedures or tests may be used to diagnose uterine cancer:
Sentinel lymph-node biopsy
Dilation & curettage (D&C) with hysteroscopy
Imaging tests, including ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Lab tests, including advanced genomic testing and CA-125 blood test
Treating uterine cancer
The first line of treatment for uterine cancer is often surgery, although it may be combined with other treatments depending on the disease’s stage and type. Types of surgery include:
Simple hysterectomy, which removes the uterus and the cervix
Radical hysterectomy, which removes the uterus, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, surrounding parametria tissue and the upper part of the vagina
Lymphadenectomy, which removes lymph nodes in the pelvis and is typically performed with a hysterectomy
Other treatment options may include:
Hair Relaxers Link To Uterine Cancer
What Types of Uterine Cancer Are Linked to Hair Relaxer?
Growing medical evidence has established a strong link between hair relaxers and cancer. In several studies, researchers indicate that frequent exposure to the undisclosed toxic chemicals used in hair relaxer and perm products may significantly increase uterine cancer risks. Studies have suggested these harmful chemicals in hair relaxers may cause the following types of uterine cancer.
Endometrial Cancer from Hair Relaxers
Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the uterus. Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer, accounting for almost 95% of all cases.
Endometrial cancer usually develops slowly over time, and symptoms may not be noticeable until the disease is advanced. Some common symptoms of endometrial cancer include irregular vaginal bleeding, pain in the pelvic area, and bloating.
The 5-year survival rate for endometrial cancer is 81%.
Uterine Sarcoma from Hair Relaxer
Uterine sarcoma is the rarest type of uterine cancer caused by hair relaxers, accounting for only about 2% to 5% of all uterine cancer cases. Uterine sarcoma is a type of cancer that develops in the muscles or supporting tissue of the uterus, which typically requires surgery to remove the tumor, as well as chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
Symptoms of uterine sarcoma from hair relaxer may include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain in the pelvic area, and a mass or lump in the uterus.
The 5-year survival rate for uterine sarcoma is 50%–55% for patients with early diagnosis and 8%–12% for advanced cases.
Do Hair Straighteners Increase the Risk of Uterine Cancer?
Yes. While previous research has identified a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer and breast cancer from hair relaxer side effects, a new study published this year provides even stronger evidence about the link between hair relaxers and uterine cancer, which may develop after long-term use of the hair straightening products.
Studies Linking Hair Relaxer to Uterine Cancer Risk
Increased Uterine Cancer Rates Among Hair Relaxer Users: Study
Chemical hair straighteners and hair relaxer uterine cancer risks were highlighted in a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in October 2022.
Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) reviewed data on nearly 34,000 women from the U.S. and Puerto Rico who used multiple hair products, including hair dyes, straighteners, relaxers, or pressing products.
The link between hair relaxers and uterine cancer was substantial. When compared to women who never used chemical hair relaxing products, frequent users (women using hair relaxers more than 4 times per year) had a 156% increased risk of developing uterine cancer. Women who infrequently used relaxers between 1-4 times per year still faced a 54% increased risk to develop uterine cancer compared to women who never used relaxers.
Hair Relaxer Uterus Cancer Risks for Black Women
Researchers also found African American women disproportionately represented the number of participants using chemical hair straighteners in the study, making up 59.9% of those using hair relaxers, while only accounting for just over 7% of the study’s population.
Authors of the study suggested black women could face a higher risk of developing uterine cancer due to the frequent exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals found in perms and chemical hair straighteners, especially since many of these products are introduced to them at early middle and high school ages.
“The adverse health effects associated with straightener use could be more consequential for African American and/or Black women because of the higher prevalence and frequency of hair product use, younger age of initiating use, and harsher chemical formulations (ie, higher concentrations of EDCs and chemicals being regulated or banned) than other races and ethnicities”
The study’s findings suggesting increased cancer rate risks among black women using hair relaxers support findings in previous studies that have identified hair products aggressively marketed to African American women often contain higher concentrations of endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Hair Relaxer Chemicals and Uterine Cancer: Research Letter
Hair relaxers have been found to contain several man-made plasticizers and preservatives, such as phthalates and parabens. In a study published in the Journal of Health and Pollution (JHP) in May 2021, researchers found excessive levels of parabens and phthalates in urine samples were associated with a significantly higher risk of developing endometrial cancer.
In fact, the study found those in the highest percentile of the endocrine disrupting chemicals in their urine samples were 4 times more likely to develop endometrial cancer. Researchers indicated women were at the highest risk due to the ability of these chemicals to alter the function of proteins and cells found inside of the female reproductive system, as well as disrupt the body’s normal regulation of hormones.
How could hair straightening chemicals cause uterine cancer?
Many hair straightening products and relaxers contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like formaldehyde, phthalates and parabens. Endocrine disruptors cause problems with hormone production which control cell growth, female reproductive system function and more.
Many researchers at the National Cancer Institute believe these endocrine disrupting chemicals in chemical hair straightening products may cause cancer cells to grow more rapidly in reproductive organs like the uterus. Below we will explain how some hair relaxer chemicals can cause uterine cancer.
Which hair relaxers cause uterine cancer?
Hair relaxer lawsuits are being filed against manufacturers of many popular chemical straightener products, which have been found to contain chemicals that may increase the risk of uterine cancer including, but not limited to:
Dark and Lovely
Soft & Beautiful
ORS Olive Oil
Just for Me
Dream Kids Olive Oil Miracle
Creme of Nature
Optimum Salon Haircare
Please note that this is a list of the most popular hair relaxer or straightener products, and many other hair straightening products have been found to contain cancer causing chemicals as well.
Is there a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit for Uterine Cancer?
Yes, our lawyers represent women pursuing a hair relaxer cancer lawsuit against several manufacturers of relaxer and chemical hair straightener products, including:
L’Oreal (SoftSheen Carson)
Strength of Nature Global, LLC
Namaste Laboratories, LLC
What should I do if I was diagnosed with uterine cancer after using hair straightening products?
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with uterine cancer after using hair relaxers, you should contact our hair relaxer uterine cancer lawyers for a completely free consultation to answer any questions you may have and explain your legal rights.
For decades, hair relaxers have been aggressively advertised, predominately to black women and teenagers as a safe and cost-effective way to straighten their hair at home without disclosing the fact that the products contain well documented and research-backed toxic and carcinogenic chemicals.
Are there any costs to hire a lawyer for my hair relaxer cancer case?
There are absolutely no out-of-pocket costs to review your case or hire our attorneys. Potential uterine cancer claims are evaluated by our hair relaxer lawyers for individuals throughout the United States, and all cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. Through the use of contingency attorney fees, individuals have access to the experience and resources of our national law firm for their hair relaxer lawsuit settlement — regardless of their individual financial resources.
You pay nothing up front to hire our hair relaxer uterine cancer lawyers, and we only receive an attorney fee or expenses out of the money that is obtained from the manufacturers. Our law firm receives nothing unless we win your case!