Endometrial cancer refers to cancer that starts at the endometrium, which is the inner lining of the uterus, and is the most common type of uterine cancer. Its exact cause is unknown, but increased levels of estrogen in the body may play a role. This is because estrogen has been seen to stimulate lining in the uterus, which may eventually lead to endometrium overgrowth and cancer.
What increases the risk of cancer?
These are some factors that may increase the risk of endometrial cancer:
- Early menstruation (starting before age 12)
- Early menopause (before age 50)
- Endometrial polyps
- Estrogen replacement therapy
- Irregular periods
- Never being pregnant
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Tamoxifen use (a drug for breast cancer treatment)
Aside from these factors, some health conditions also increase the risk of developing cancer, and these conditions include breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, gallbladder disease and high blood pressure.
Diagnosing endometrial cancer
Endometrial cancer is usually detected at very early stages, because it produces abnormal vaginal bleeding. This symptom urges women to see their doctors. When the condition is diagnosed early on, surgery can be performed to remove the uterus, which successfully cures the condition. Other signs and symptoms of endometrial cancer include:
- Abnormal blood tinged discharge from the vagina
- Bleeding in between periods
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain in the pelvis
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
Seeing a doctor and seeking treatment
It’s important to see a doctor right away whenever you experience any of these symptoms. While they may be signs for a completely different condition, it’s still essential to get checked right away to ensure that the condition is ruled out. The following courses of action are recommended for treatment:
- Surgery – surgery is done to remove the uterus, and oftentimes, the fallopian tubes and ovaries, too. This is usually done for early stages of the cancer, when the problem is still contained inside the uterus.
- Radiation – this treatment makes use of powerful energy beams to kill cancer cells. In some cases, radiation may also be done prior to doing surgery, as it shrinks tumors and make them easier to remove.
- Hormone therapy – it involves the intake of medication, which in turn affects the hormone levels in the body. This is usually done for those with advanced endometrial cancer, especially that which has already spread outside the uterus.
- Chemotherapy – one of the most common cancer treatments, chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill cancer cells and is also recommended for women with advanced levels of endometrial cancer.
If indeed you are diagnosed with endometrial cancer, you will need to undergo treatment, which will depend on the characteristics of the disease – like what stage it is, your overall health and of course, your preferences in terms of treating it.