Uterine cancer is on the rise despite the decline of most other cancer diagnosis rates in the United States, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC says that more than 53,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2015, with the endometrial cancer (which begins in the lining of the uterus) being the most common type of uterine cancer diagnosed nationwide.
The rising rate is at least partially related to the ongoing obesity epidemic in the U.S., which has been getting worse, according to an obesity report from September that was also based on CDC data. Women who are overweight are approximately two to four times as likely to develop endometrial cancer as are women of healthy weight, so researchers writing this latest CDC note that a contributing factor to increasing uterine cancer incidence could be excess body weight.
This rising rate is important for several reasons. Uterine cancer is one of the few cancers with increasing incidence and mortality in the nation, now the fourth most common cancer diagnosed among women in the U.S., and the seventh most common cause of cancer death among American women. Deaths from uterine cancer were twice as high among African-American women as they were among Caucasian women, researchers wrote in their report.
Screening for certain types of cancer, including cervical and breast cancers, is recommended based on whether individuals belong to high-risk population groups. Uterine cancer screening is not recommended in the same way at this time, but any abnormal vaginal bleeding (i.e. bleeding between periods or after sex), an early warning sign of uterine cancer, should be closely monitored by individuals with other risk factors such as being overweight.
In addition to causing cancer rates to rise, obesity is a costly public health crisis. The CDC estimated that the annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 dollars. The medical costs for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.