Endometrial cancer is a cancer that develops in the uterus. Uterus is a pear-shaped organ in a woman; it is a place where fetal development takes place. Endometrial cancer begins in the lining of the uterus. It is also called as uterine cancer. It is detected at an early stage due to the regular abnormal vaginal bleeding produced, which prompts a woman to consult a doctor. The early detection of the disease helps in curing the condition.
TYPES OF ENDOMETRIAL CANCER
There are two types of uterine cancer. They are:
- Endometrial cancer is the cancer that develops in the lining of the uterus. This is the most common type of uterine cancer which constitutes to about 95 percent of the total uterine cancers.
- Uterine sarcoma is a very rare type of uterine cancer. It develops in the muscles and tissues of the uterus.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ENDOMETRIAL CANCER
The signs and symptoms of endometrial cancer are listed below.
- Bleeding between periods
- Bleeding after menopause
- Watery or bloody fluid from the vagina
- Pain in the pelvic region
The signs and symptoms may vary from one person to another. Sometimes, a few of the women do not show any symptoms of endometrial cancer. However, the above mentioned symptoms are a few common signs observed during endometrial cancer.
The cause for the development of endometrial cancer is the formation of the genetic mutations that change the normal, healthy cells to abnormal cells. These abnormal cells grow and multiply and increase in number forming a tumor in the endometrium leading to the formation of endometrial cancer.
- Any change in the hormone levels in the body of a woman may increase the risk of developing endometrial cancer.
- A condition in which there is increase in the level of estrogen but no change in the level of progesterone can increase the risk of developing endometrial cancer.
- Obesity and diabetes can also increase the risk of developing the disease.
- After menopause, taking hormones that have estrogen but not progesterone can also increase the risk of developing endometrial cancer.
- More years of menstruation i.e., starting menstruation at an early age, may be before the age of 12 or starting menopause at a later stage can increase the risk of developing the disease.
- Women who have children before 35 years of age are at a lesser risk of developing the disease when compared to the women who do not have children.
- Age plays a major role. As the age of a woman increases, the risk of developing the disease also increases.
- A family history of cancer can increase the risk of developing endometrial disease. The person may have an inherited gene in the body that causes the cancer to develop in the endometrium.
The following are the tests performed for the diagnosis of endometrial cancer.
- Pelvic examination is performed to know the changes in the uterus. During a pelvic examination, the doctor inserts two fingers of a hand into the vagina of a woman and feels the uterus and the ovaries. A device called as speculum is inserted into the vagina which helps the doctor get a proper view of the vagina and the abnormalities in the cervix.
- Transvaginal ultrasound is performed to know the thickness of the endometrium. A device called the transducer is used which creates sound waves to get a video of the uterus. This test helps the doctor understand the check for abnormalities in the lining of the uterus.
- Hysteroscopy is performed to examine the inside of the uterus and the endometrium. During the hysteroscopy, a thin, lighted tube is inserted into the uterus of the woman to check for abnormalities. A sample of the biopsy is sent to the lab to confirm the diagnosis.
- Biopsy is another method performed to confirm the test results. It is a sample of the tissue taken from the body to examine it more closely. A doctor usually recommends for biopsy when a part of the body tissue seems abnormal. The abnormality in a particular area may be noticed in the imaging techniques or during a physical examination.
The following are the main treatments of breast cancer.
- Surgery is performed to remove the uterus, which is the most common treatment in woman suffering from endometrial cancer. The removal of the uterus is called hysterectomy.
- Chemotherapy is a drug used to kill the cancer causing cells. It is either given orally or intravenously. It is usually used after a surgery to remove the presence of any left-over cancerous cells in the body. Chemotherapy can also be given to treat the cancers that spread to various other parts of the body.
- Radiation therapy is usually given along with chemotherapy before a surgery. This therapy also kills the remains of any cancerous cells in the body.
- Hormone therapy is a form of systemic therapy, used to prevent the recurrence of cancer anywhere in the body. This therapy works in increasing the progesterone levels and decreases the estrogen levels.
- Palliative care focuses on relieving the person from pain and other symptoms that cause serious illness. This care is given to the person along with other curative treatments.
Following a healthy diet, being physically active and going for regular screenings will help in preventing the development of endometrial cancer.