In the Journals Plus

PCOS may increase overall cancer risk

Show Citation

December 6, 2018

Swedish women with polycystic ovary syndrome are 15% more likely to develop any cancer vs. women without the condition, with risk further elevated for cancers of the endometrium, ovary, pancreas and kidney, according to a research letter published in JAMA Oncology.

“Several carcinogenic processes are associated with PCOS, including dyslipidemia, hyperinsulemia and chronic inflammation,” Weimin Ye, MD, PhD, professor in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues wrote. “However, studies on risk of all types of cancer are scarce.”

Ye and colleagues analyzed data from a Swedish registry on 14,764 women aged 15 to 50 years between 1985 and 2009 who were diagnosed with PCOS (mean age at study entry, 29 years). Researchers followed the cohort until cancer diagnosis, emigration, death or Dec. 31, 2009. Researchers used Cox proportional hazard models to calculate HRs for cancers among women with and without PCOS. To address the influence of menopause, HRs for women aged at least 51 years (median age of menopause in Sweden) were estimated separately.

Within the cohort, 182 women had primary cancers.

#
Researchers found that PCOS was associated with a 15% overall increased cancer risk
Adobe Stock

In fully adjusted models, researchers found that PCOS was associated with a 15% overall increased cancer risk (HR = 1.15; 95% CI, 1-1.33). Additionally, researchers observed excess cancer risks for women with PCOS at the endometrium (HR = 2.62; 95% CI, 1.58-4.35), ovary (HR = 2.16; 95% CI, 1.3-3.59), pancreas (HR = 3.4; 95% CI, 1.41-8.2) and kidney (HR = 3.07; 95% CI, 1.27-7.39), as well as the skeletal and hematopoietic system (HR = 1.69; 95% CI, 1.05-2.72). Women with PCOS were also more likely to develop thyroid cancer vs. women without the condition (HR = 1.29; 95% CI, 0.58-2.87) and were at increased risk for cancer at other endocrine gland sites (HR = 2.55; 95% CI, 1.45-4.5).

“The excess risks were prominent only before menopause,” the researchers wrote, adding that further adjustments for patient education level or use of medications did not change the findings.

“Our study indicates that cancer may need to be added to the spectrum of long-term health consequences of PCOS and warrants increased surveillance among these patients,” the researchers wrote. – by Regina Schaffer

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.