UTERINE CANCER

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I’m sorry to hear that you’re concerned about uterine cancer. Uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the uterus. It is one of the most common types of gynecological cancers.

Some common signs and symptoms of uterine cancer include:

  1. Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding between periods, after menopause, or unusually heavy periods.
  2. Pelvic pain or discomfort.
  3. Pain during sexual intercourse.
  4. Changes in bowel or bladder habits.
  5. Unintended weight loss.

The exact cause of uterine cancer is not fully understood, but certain risk factors may increase the chances of developing the disease. These risk factors include:

  1. Age: Uterine cancer is more common in postmenopausal women, typically occurring in women over the age of 50.
  2. Hormonal factors: Excessive estrogen exposure, such as from estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can increase the risk.
  3. Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing uterine cancer.
  4. Diabetes: Women with diabetes have a higher risk of uterine cancer.
  5. Family history: Having a close relative with uterine cancer may increase the risk.

uterine cancer

If uterine cancer is suspected, further tests may be conducted to make a definitive diagnosis. These may include imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or MRI, and a biopsy, where a sample of the uterine tissue is taken for examination.

Treatment options for uterine cancer depend on various factors, including the stage and grade of the cancer, as well as the individual’s overall health. Common treatment approaches may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Hormone therapy may also be used in certain cases.

 

TYPES OF UTERINE CANCER

Uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, can be classified into different types based on the cells involved and their characteristics. The two main types of uterine cancer are:

  1. Endometrioid Adenocarcinoma: This is the most common type of uterine cancer, accounting for about 80% to 90% of cases. It originates from the cells lining the uterus, called the endometrium. Endometrioid adenocarcinoma is often associated with hormonal imbalances, such as excessive estrogen exposure. It is typically diagnosed at an early stage and has a relatively good prognosis.
  2. Uterine Serous Carcinoma: Uterine serous carcinoma is a less common but more aggressive type of uterine cancer. It accounts for about 10% to 20% of cases. It develops from the serous cells that line the uterus. Uterine serous carcinoma tends to be diagnosed at a later stage and has a higher likelihood of spreading beyond the uterus. It is often associated with a poorer prognosis compared to endometrioid adenocarcinoma.

In addition to these two main types, there are a few rare types of uterine cancer, including:

  • Adenosquamous Carcinoma
  • Carcinosarcoma
  • Clear Cell Carcinoma

Each type of uterine cancer may have different characteristics, treatment approaches, and prognosis. The specific type and stage of uterine cancer are determined through a pathological examination of the tissue obtained from a biopsy or surgery.

 

SIGN AND SYMPTOMS OF UTERINE CANCER

The signs and symptoms of uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, can vary from person to person. It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than cancer. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation:

  1. Abnormal vaginal bleeding: This is the most common symptom of uterine cancer. It may include:
    • Vaginal bleeding between periods.
    • Bleeding after menopause (when menstrual periods have stopped for 12 consecutive months).
    • Menstrual periods that are heavier or longer than usual.
  2. Pelvic pain or discomfort: You may experience persistent pelvic pain or a feeling of pressure in the pelvic area.
  3. Pain during sexual intercourse: Some women with uterine cancer may experience pain or discomfort during sexual activity.
  4. Changes in bowel or bladder habits: This can include:
    • Changes in bowel movements, such as constipation or diarrhea.
    • Frequent or urgent urination.
  5. Unintended weight loss: Unexplained weight loss can occur with uterine cancer, although it is a less common symptom.

It’s important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.

 

 

CAUSE AND RISK FACTOR

The exact cause of uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, is not fully understood. However, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing the disease. It’s important to note that having one or more risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely develop uterine cancer, as many women with the disease have no identifiable risk factors. On the other hand, some women with one or more risk factors may never develop uterine cancer. The known risk factors for uterine cancer include:

  1. Age: The risk of developing uterine cancer increases as women get older, with the majority of cases diagnosed in women over the age of 50.
  2. Hormonal factors: Factors that can increase estrogen exposure include:
    • Never having been pregnant.
    • Early onset of menstruation (before age 12).
    • Late onset of menopause (after age 55).
    • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with estrogen alone (without progesterone).
  3. Obesity: Fat tissues can produce additional estrogen, which can contribute to the development of cancer cells in the uterus.
  4. Diabetes: Women with diabetes have an increased risk of developing uterine cancer, possibly due to hormonal imbalances and higher levels of insulin.
  5. Family history: Having a first-degree relative (such as a mother, sister, or daughter) with uterine cancer increases the risk of developing the disease. Genetic factors and shared environmental influences may contribute to this increased risk.
  6. Inherited conditions: Certain inherited genetic syndromes, such as Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC), can increase the risk of developing uterine cancer and other cancers.
  7. Tamoxifen use: Tamoxifen, a medication commonly used for breast cancer treatment and prevention, has been associated with an increased risk of developing uterine cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women.

 

DIAGNOSIS

The diagnosis of uterine cancer typically involves a combination of medical history evaluation, physical examination, and various diagnostic tests. Here is an overview of the diagnostic process for uterine cancer:

  1. Medical history and physical examination: Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and any risk factors you may have. They will also perform a pelvic examination to check for any abnormalities, such as the size, shape, or consistency of the uterus.
  2. Transvaginal ultrasound: This imaging test uses sound waves to create images of the uterus. It can help identify any abnormalities, such as thickening of the uterine lining or the presence of uterine masses or tumors.
  3. Endometrial biopsy: This is the most common procedure used to diagnose uterine cancer. It involves removing a small sample of the tissue from the lining of the uterus (endometrium) for laboratory analysis. The sample can be obtained through an outpatient procedure using a thin, flexible tube (pipelle) inserted into the uterus through the cervix. The sample is then examined under a microscope to check for the presence of cancer cells.
  4. Hysteroscopy: In some cases, a hysteroscopy may be performed to directly visualize the inside of the uterus. A hysteroscope, a thin, lighted tube, is inserted through the cervix into the uterus. This allows the healthcare provider to examine the uterine lining and take biopsies if necessary.
  5. Imaging tests: Additional imaging tests may be conducted to determine the extent of the cancer and whether it has spread beyond the uterus. These may include:
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): It provides detailed images of the uterus and surrounding structures to help determine the tumor size, involvement, and potential spread.
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan: It can help evaluate the pelvic area and detect any enlarged lymph nodes or metastasis to other organs.
    • Chest X-ray or chest CT scan: These tests may be performed to check for the presence of cancer in the lungs or other areas

It’s important to discuss the diagnostic process and any concerns with your healthcare provider, who can provide detailed information and guidance based on your specific situation.

 

SCREENING

Uterine cancer, specifically endometrial cancer, does not have a widely recommended routine screening test for the general population. However, certain situations or risk factors may warrant specific screening or monitoring approaches. Here are some considerations:

  1. Symptoms and Risk Assessment: It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of uterine cancer, such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, or changes in bowel or bladder habits. If you experience any concerning symptoms, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider for evaluation.
  2. High-Risk Individuals: Women with certain risk factors may benefit from closer monitoring or screening. These can include individuals with a strong family history of uterine or other related cancers, certain genetic conditions (such as Lynch syndrome), or a history of hormone-related conditions (e.g., estrogen therapy without progesterone, polycystic ovary syndrome). In such cases, your healthcare provider may recommend more frequent pelvic exams, transvaginal ultrasounds, or other diagnostic tests.
  3. Postmenopausal Bleeding: Postmenopausal bleeding, which refers to vaginal bleeding that occurs after menopause, is considered abnormal and requires evaluation. It may be an early sign of uterine cancer or other gynecological conditions. If you experience postmenopausal bleeding, seek medical attention promptly.
  4. Shared Decision-Making: If you have concerns about your personal risk of developing uterine cancer, it’s important to discuss them with your healthcare provider. They can help assess your individual risk factors, discuss the potential benefits and limitations of screening tests, and provide personalized recommendations based on your situation.

Remember, routine screening tests, such as Pap smears or HPV tests, are primarily aimed at detecting cervical cancer and do not effectively screen for uterine cancer. Regular check-ups, awareness of symptoms, and open communication with your healthcare provider remain crucial for the early detection and management of uterine cancer.

Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized advice regarding your specific health needs and any concerns you may have.

 

author

Aman k. Kashyap

I am a hard-working and driven medical student who isn't afraid to face any challenge. I'm passionate about my work . I would describe myself as an open and honest person who doesn't believe in misleading other people and tries to be fair in everything I do.

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