Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors1 2 3

  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] is 30 or higher).
  • Use of unopposed estrogen (patients with an intact uterus must take progesterone if they are taking estrogen).
  • Increasing age (50 years of age and older).
  • Infertility (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome).
  • Nulliparity.

Protective Factor4 5 6

Oral contraceptives: 4 years of use reduces risk by 56%; 8 years of use reduces risk by 67%; and 12 years of use reduces risk by 72%. Reduced risk is found in women taking oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) for contraceptive purposes. OCPs increase risk for breast and cervical cancer.


1CDC. What Are the Risk Factors for Uterine Cancer?

2DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, DePinho RA, and Weinberg RA. Devita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (8th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2008.

3Schottenfeld D, Fraumeni J Jr. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention (3rd ed.). Eastbourne, UK; WB Saunders Co., 1982.

4Cullins VE. Noncontraceptive benefits and therapeutic uses of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate.external icon Journal of Reproductive Medicine 1996;41(5 Suppl):428–433.

5Kaunitz AM. Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate contraception and the risk of breast and gynecologic cancer.external icon Journal of Reproductive Medicine 1996;41(5 Suppl):419–427.

6Montz FJ, Bristow RE, Bovicelli A, Tomacruz R, Kurman RJ. Intrauterine progesterone treatment of early endometrial cancer.external icon American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2002;186(4):651–657.

Knowledge Check

Answer the question on your own and check your answer.

Answer: Obesity, unopposed estrogen, infertility (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome), and a family health history of uterine, colon, or ovarian cancer.

Page last reviewed: September 14, 2015