Uterine cancer also known as endometrial cancer, is cancer of the female organ the uterus. You can get other types of cancer in your uterus, but endometrial cancer originates in the lining of the uterus. Endometrial cancer can spread to other organs. There are sometimes no symptoms with endometrial cancer until the cancer spreads to other organs. There are risk groups that can have a greater risk of developing endometrial cancer. Women who are older in age, obese, women who started their menstrual cycle earlier before the age of 12 or women who have never been pregnant. Women who have had to undergo hormone therapy for breast cancer also have a greater risk.
Signs & Symptoms:
The most common symptom of endometrial cancer is heavy vaginal bleeding. This can be heavy bleeding on your actual period, or bleeding in between your periods. If you are postmenopausal you can also experience vaginal bleeding. Fifteen percent of postmenopausal women who experience vaginal bleeding will be diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Other symptoms include vaginal discharge that can be pink or brown colored. Difficult or painful urination, enlarged uterus that can be detected during a pelvic screening. Pain during intercourse is also a symptom. Unexpected weight loss and weakness are also symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms you should go to your doctor immediately.
If you go to your doctor with some of these symptoms they will do some tests to try and diagnose you. Your doctor may order blood or urine tests. Sometimes the easiest ways to diagnose is through a pelvic exam or pap smear. First detection of having cancer is sometimes found out by having a pelvic exam or pap smear if you haven’t had any other symptoms. Your doctor may do a transvaginal ultrasound. This is when your doctor will use a wand that the place up into the vagina to look at your uterus more clearly. The last test is a biopsy of your uterus. Depending on what your biopsy results come back you may be sent to do a CT scan, MRI, and blood tests.
Once your endometrial cancer is diagnosed there are some things that you can do to help cure it or send the cancer into remission, or to help stop it to spread. The first line of defense if your cancer hasn’t spread to other areas is to do a total hysterectomy with bilateral oophorectomy. This is the complete removal of the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. This surgery is an extensive one. After having this you will usually stay in the hospital a day or two after. They can do this surgery laparoscopically now so that the incision isn’t as big and the healing time is less. An abdominal hysterectomy is when your surgeon will open you up completely as opposed to the laparoscopic which is where they make tiny incisions to put instruments through. Not every woman is a good candidate for the minimally invasive surgery. You will have to discuss with your surgeon who can help you come to the right decision on what is the best approach. Surgery is the best option for making the cancer not come back. This helps if your cancer hasn’t spread to other organs. If your cancer has spread your doctor may suggest radiation and chemotherapy. This will help stop the cancer from growing and spreading. If you have to undergo radiation and chemotherapy you may also be put on hormone therapy. Hormone therapy will help slow down the growth of the cancer.
Once you go through treatment you maybe in remission. Remission is when all scans, signs, or tests show that there is no sign of cancer cells anymore. Once you get to remission you may still have to go have the occasional check up every few months or so.
There is about sixty one thousand cases of endometrial cancer diagnosed every year. Only about 3.6% of all cancer diagnosed is endometrial cancer. The amount of cases are increasing due to the fact that obesity is more common now. Make sure to see your gynecologist yearly to help early detection of endometrial cancer. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please consult your doctor.