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Malignant tumors of the female reproductive system

Elisabete Weiderpass, France Labrèche
Safety and Health At Work 2012, 3 (3): 166-80
This review summarizes the epidemiology of cancer of the female reproductive system and associated lifestyle factors. It also assesses the available evidence for occupational factors associated with these cancers. Cervical, endometrial, and ovarian cancers are relatively common, and cause significant cancer morbidity and mortality worldwide, whereas vulvar, vaginal, fallopian tube cancers, and choriocarcinomas are very rare. As several lifestyle factors are known to play a major role in the etiology of these cancers, very few published studies have investigated possible relationships with occupational factors. Some occupational exposures have been associated with increased risks of these cancers, but apart from the available evidence on the relationships between asbestos fibers and ovarian cancer, and tetrachloroethylene and cervical cancer, the data is rather scarce. Given the multifactorial nature of cancers of the female reproductive system, it is of the utmost importance to conduct occupational studies that will gather detailed data on potential individual confounding factors, in particular reproductive history and other factors that influence the body's hormonal environment, together with information on socio-economic status and lifestyle factors, including physical activity from multiple sources. Studies on the mechanisms of carcinogenesis in the female reproductive organs are also needed in order to elucidate the possible role of chemical exposures in the development of these cancers.


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