Alterations in environmental factors may contribute to endometrial cancer

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Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecological malignancy in the United States and the fourth most common cancer in women.

Additionally, endometrial cancer incidence rates are on the rise in the Western world, suggesting that changes in environmental factors such as diet, lifestyle, and the vaginal microbiome may be important factors. of his cause.

In a study published in Scientific reports Mayo Clinic researchers have identified a microbiome signature associated with endometrial cancer, which is in part favored by postmenopause.

The aim of the study was to understand how endometrial cancer risk factors alter the reproductive tract microbiome and endometrial cancer risk.

If the microbiome plays a role in endometrial cancer, beyond being a marker, this could have important implications for endometrial cancer prevention.”

Marina Walther-Antonio, Ph.D., lead author of the Mayo Clinic study

According to Dr. Walther-Antonio, the established role of the vaginal microbiome as a key factor in vaginal and obstetric health, as well as the vaginal microbiome differences found between different ethnicities, add to the importance of exploring the microbiome in cancer. of the endometrium.

The research team previously found microbiome differences between patients with and without endometrial cancer in a uterine microbiome study published in 2017 that led to the development of a vaginal swab screening methodology used for the endometrial cancer.

“The new study has given us the knowledge and application to further develop this endometrial cancer screening tool,” says Dr. Walther-Antonio.

Dr. Walther-Antonio and researchers are currently studying the role of the microbiome in endometrial cancer and potentially how to prevent the actions of harmful bacteria to the host.

Overall, the team checked the main known risk factors for endometrial cancer (postmenopausal status and obesity) and identified high vaginal pH as an additional factor associated with endometrial cancer patients. the endometrium.

“We have determined that all of these factors impact the microbiome of the reproductive tract, identified postmenopause as a key factor, and plan to discuss potential translational applications of this knowledge, which could provide novel approaches to remedy to current health disparities in endometrial cancer,” says Dr. Walther-Antonio.

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