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Polycystic ovaries and cancer risk

Women who have polycystic ovaries have a slightly increased risk of cancer of the lining of the womb (endometrium). Women with polycystic ovaries don't have so many periods. When you don't ovulate regularly, the lining of the womb carries on thickening. This means the cells are dividing and multiplying for longer periods than they should. Over a long period, this increases the risk of endometrial cancer.

Your gynaecologist should be aware of this and will be keeping an eye on you. If it is picked up early, endometrial cancer is usually cured with hysterectomy.

Studies have tried to find out if women with polycystic ovaries are more at risk of other cancers, such as ovarian cancer and breast cancer. Some seem to show there is a link and some say there isn't. While we don't know for sure, this indicates that there is unlikely to be any strong link.

If you are worried, talk to your GP or gynaecologist. They can discuss your risk of cancer and also organise any tests to pick up cancer early.

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Updated: 25 January 2014