Endometrial & Uterine Early Detection
Our mission is to empower women with the knowledge of endometrial/uterine cancer’s signs and symptoms, risk factors and provide recommendations. Learn, be well and share this knowledge with other women.
Did you know?
- Usually, uterine cancer shows up in women who have already passed through menopause. Only about a quarter of uterine cancer cases occur in women of childbearing age.
- The most common type of uterine cancer is called endometrial because it affects the cells of the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus.
- Because uterine cancer generally causes abnormal vaginal bleeding — abnormal enough to send women to their doctors to investigate — the majority of cases are caught early. Most patients then do well with surgery and minimal extra treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Uterine or Endometrial Cancer
Abnormal vaginal bleeding. In premenopausal women, that can include bleeding between periods or extremely heavy, lengthy or frequent episodes of vaginal bleeding. In postmenopausal women, of course, any vaginal bleeding is irregular. The bleeding may start as a watery blood-streaked flow that gradually contains more blood.
Other symptoms may include trouble urinating, pain or cramping in the lower abdominal region, pelvic pain during intercourse. After menopause, symptoms may also include thin white or clear discharge.
Risk Factors for Uterine Cancer
- Genetics — A family or previous personal history of colon, ovarian or endometrial cancer can indicate a higher risk for developing endometrial cancer as can a family history of Lynch syndrome or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).
- Above average estrogen exposure — hormone imbalances may increase the risk of developing uterine or endometrial cancer. Several environmental and behavioral factors are related to extra estrogen, including:
- More menstrual cycles over the course of childbearing years — this could be from being a younger age at onset of menses, before age 12, and an older age at menopause. It can also be from never getting pregnant.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause, though this risk lowers when the HRT adds progesterone into the mix.
- Certain birth control pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
- The breast cancer treatment and prevention drug called tamoxifen which should be discussed with the prescribing doctor to weigh the risks and benefits.
- Diets high in animal fat.
- Obesity because fatty tissue itself produces estrogen. In fact, as many as 40% of uterine cancer cases are linked to obesity. Endometrial cancer shows up more often in patients with type 2 diabetes and doctors propose this link is related to the higher rates of obesity in these patients.
- Certain ovarian tumors as well as polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Age — Uterine and endometrial cancer occurs most commonly in women over the age of 50.
- Previous radiation therapy — Women who have received radiation for another cancer in the lower abdomen between the hip bones, or pelvic area, are at an increased risk for uterine cancer.
- Race — Black women are less likely to develop uterine cancer than their white counterparts.
- Complex atypical endometrial hyperplasia — This is a precancerous condition which cause the uterine lining to grow. If left untreated, it may become cancerous.
Recommendations for Endometrial and Uterine Cancer
If you recognize any of the signs and symptoms of these types of cancer, consult your primary care physician or OB/GYN for an evaluation. Your doctor has a variety of tools and tests at their disposal to arrive at the proper diagnosis. These may include a physical examination as well as blood tests and any of the following, depending on your situation:
In the early stages of this cancer, a pelvic exam is often normal with changes in size, shape and feel of your uterus and surrounding tissues not occurring until the disease has advanced.
An ultrasound uses sound waves and their echoes to show the clinician a picture of your uterus and nearby tissues to see if there’s anything present that shouldn’t be. The ultrasound may be administered transvaginally from inside the vagina. This procedure causes little discomfort.
Endometrial aspiration or biopsy
This is when the doctor removes a small amount of suspicious-looking tissue to send to the lab for microscopic examination. Your doctor will use gentle scraping and suction obtain this sample. Generally, a biopsy is the only certain way to confirm a cancer diagnosis.
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