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There’s new evidence of a link between a chronic condition plaguing Australian women and ovarian cancer.

Researchers have discovered a strong genetic causal relationship between endometriosis and three types of ovarian cancer.

“We were able to identify 19 locations across the genome that contain genetic markers that increase their risk to both diseases,” said lead investigator Dr Sally Mortlock from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

There's new evidence of a link between a chronic condition plaguing Australian women and ovarian cancer.
There’s new evidence of a link between a chronic condition plaguing Australian women and ovarian cancer. (9News)

Endometriosis is a progressive, chronic condition that affects about one in nine Australian females.

It occurs when tissue, similar to the lining of the uterus, infiltrates nearby organs and causes inflammation, swelling and scarring.

The symptoms include painful periods, pelvic and back pain, nausea and fertility problems.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue, similar to the lining of the uterus, infiltrates nearby organs and causes inflammation, swelling and scarring.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue, similar to the lining of the uterus, infiltrates nearby organs and causes inflammation, swelling and scarring. (9News)

Previous studies have shown that endometriosis sufferers have a slightly increased risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer, which is the most common type.

To shed more light on this link, Australian researchers joined forces with experts in the US and UK to investigate.

They combined large datasets comparing the genomes of 15,000 people with endometriosis and 25,000 with ovarian cancer to find an overlap in risk factors.

Previous studies have shown that endometriosis sufferers have a slightly increased risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer, which is the most common type.
Previous studies have shown that endometriosis sufferers have a slightly increased risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer, which is the most common type. (9News)

The latest evidence will help them identify potential drug targets for therapy and promote targeted cancer screening in women with endometriosis.

The overall risk, however, is still considered low.

“Studies have estimated that 1 in 76 women are at risk of developing ovarian cancer in their lifetime and having endometriosis increases this slightly to 1 in 55,” said Dr Mortlock.

Hayley Mayfield, 19, didn't know about the link and welcomes new research into the two diseases.
Hayley Mayfield, 19, didn’t know about the link and welcomes new research into the two diseases. (9News)

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynaecologic cancer because it’s usually diagnosed too late.

Hayley Mayfield, 19, didn’t know about the link and welcomes new research into the two diseases.

She has suffered from endometriosis for the past four years.

“I’ve been having symptoms ever since I was 15 of bad cramps, nausea all the time,” she said.

When she was first rushed to emergency in extreme pain, doctors removed her appendix as they didn’t know what was causing her symptoms.

Hayley Mayfield, 19, didn't know about the link and welcomes new research into the two diseases.
When Hayley was first rushed to emergency in extreme pain, doctors removed her appendix as they didn’t know what was causing her symptoms. (9News)

Her diagnosis came three years later, when a gynaecologist was involved in her emergency care.

“They said I had stage four endometriosis and that it would take up to three hours to remove,” she said.

“It’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life.”

Source: 9News

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