Uterine Cancer Facts, Symptoms and Treatment
The most common type of uterine cancer is also called endometrial cancer because it forms in the lining of your uterus, called the endometrium. When uterine cancer is found early, treatment works best.
There is no way to know for sure if you will get uterine cancer. Some women get it without being at high risk.
Factors that might increase the chance that you will get uterine cancer are:~Are older than 50.
~Are obese (have an abnormally high, unhealthy amount of body fat).
~Take estrogen by itself (without progesterone) for hormone replacement during menopause.
~Have had trouble getting pregnant, or have had fewer than five periods in a year before starting menopause.
~Take tamoxifen, a drug used to treat certain types of breast cancer.
~Have close family members who have had uterine, colon, or ovarian cancer.
If one or more of these things is true for you, it does not mean you will get uterine cancer. But you should speak with your doctor to see if he or she recommends more frequent exams.
There is no known way to prevent uterine cancer. But these things may reduce your chance of getting uterine cancer:
~Using birth control pills.
~Maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.
~Taking progesterone, if you are taking estrogen.
Ask your doctor about how often you should be checked for uterine cancer, especially if you think that you have factors that increase your chance of getting it.
Uterine cancer may cause vaginal discharge or bleeding that is not normal for you. Bleeding may be abnormal because of how heavy it is or when it happens, such as after you have gone through menopause, between periods, or any other bleeding that is longer or heavier than is normal for you. Uterine cancer may also cause other symptoms, such as pain or pressure in your pelvis.
If you have bleeding that is not normal for you, especially if you have already gone through menopause, see a doctor right away. Also see a doctor if you have any other signs or symptoms for two weeks or longer. These things may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor.
There are no simple and reliable ways to test for uterine cancer in women who do not have any signs or symptoms. The Pap test does not screen for uterine cancer. The only cancer the Pap test screens for is cervical cancer.
Screening is when a test is used to look for a disease before there are any symptoms. Diagnostic tests are used when a person has symptoms. The purpose of diagnostic tests is to find out, or diagnose, what is causing the symptoms. Diagnostic tests also may be used to check a person who is considered at high risk for cancer.
Since there is no simple and reliable way to screen for any gynecologic cancers except for cervical cancer, it is especially important to recognize warning signs and learn what you can do to reduce your risk.
If you have symptoms or believe you may be at high risk for uterine cancer, your doctor may perform an endometrial biopsy or a transvaginal ultrasound. These tests can be used to help diagnose or rule out uterine cancer. Your doctor may do this test in his or her office, or may refer you to another doctor. The doctor might perform more tests if the endometrial biopsy does not provide enough information, or if symptoms continue.
Types of Treatment
Uterine cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of uterine cancer and how far it has spread.
~Surgery: Doctors remove cancer tissue in an operation.
~Radiation: Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer.
~Hormone Therapy: Hormone therapy removes hormones or blocks their action and stops cancer cells from growing. Hormones are substances made by glands in the body and circulated in the bloodstream.
~Chemotherapy: Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.