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Endometriosis is a non-cancerous condition in which the cells that make up the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grow outside of the uterus. Most endometriosis is found on or under the ovaries, behind the uterus or on the bowels or the bladder. Endometriosis rarely grows in other parts of the body.

Endometriosis may cause:

The pain is usually in the abdomen, lower back, or pelvic area. Endometriosis is painful, but it's not usually serious.

Tamoxifen, a hormonal therapy, stimulates the growth of endometrial cells. This can cause endometriosis and also can increase the risk of endometrial cancer. Tamoxifen also can cause uneven thickening of the muscle and supportive tissues within the wall of the uterus.

The only way to tell for sure if you have endometriosis is for your doctor to do a laparoscopy, a way of looking inside your uterus by making a small cut in the skin over your abdomen and inserting a thin tube with a viewing instrument in it. If you have a laparoscopy, you'll be given medicine so you won't feel any pain.

Managing endometriosis

If you're taking tamoxifen and have lower back, abdominal or pelvic pain, talk to your doctor. Medication is available to ease pain. If your endometriosis is very large, surgery may be recommended to remove it.

If you have unusual vaginal bleeding (bleeding outside of your normal monthly period), talk to your doctor right away. Abnormal bleeding can be a symptom of endometrial cancer.

NOTE: A common treatment for endometriosis is taking birth control pills. If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, you CANNOT take birth control pills. Birth control pills contain estrogen and are not considered safe for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

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