Endometrial Cancer

Also known as uterine cancer, occurs in the endometrium, which is the inner lining of the uterus

By Vishal Ingole, Medical Research EditorLast modified: September 14, 2011

Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer, also known as uterine cancer, occurs in the endometrium, which is the inner lining of the uterus. Endometrial cancers are the most common type of gynecologic cancers in women.

What is Endometrial Cancer?

Endometrial cancer is a disease characterized by the growth of malignant cancer cells in the endometrial lining inside the uterus.

Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer

The most common symptom of endometrial cancer is abnormally heavy vaginal bleeding. Other symptoms include spotting, discharge that is not due to menstrual cycle, pain in the pelvic area, pain during sexual intercourse and difficulty during urination. The same symptoms may be caused by other diseases as well so it is imperative to consult a doctor immediately.

Causes of Endometrial Cancer

The exact cause of endometrial cancer has not been singled out but there are several factors that increase the risk of the development of this cancer. Higher levels of estrogen are directly linked to cancer of the endometrial lining.

Risk Factors of Endometrial Cancer

There are many risk factors that are associated with endometrial cancer. The existence of these factors does not indicate that the cancer is sure to develop but it does make the person more susceptible. Obesity, start of the menstrual period at a young age or before the age of 12, diabetes, infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), menopause after fifty years of age, irregular menstrual cycle and having undergone estrogen replacement therapy independent of progesterone are some of the factors that increase the risk of contracting endometrial cancer.

Tests and Diagnosis of Endometrial Cancer

In the early stages of the cancer, pelvic examinations may be done by the doctor. Others tests that may be conducted are endometrial biopsy, dilatation and curettage commonly known as D and C as well as a pap smear. Further tests might be conducted if these preliminary tests indicate the existence of a cancer so as to determine the stage that the endometrial cancer is in. On the basis of the extent that the cancerous cells have spread to, staging or grading is conducted.

Treatment of Endometrial Cancer

Depending on the stage that the cancer has reached, treatment options may involve surgeries like vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy or a combination therapy of two or more of the other treatment options. Chemotherapy is generally considered as a treatment option only when endometrial cancer has reached later stages.

Prevention of Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer may be prevented or at least detected sooner, by undergoing regular pelvic examinations. If there is an abnormal growth or development, it may be singled out during the examination. Pap smears are also recommended every year, three years after a woman is deemed active sexually.

Risk factors should be mitigated as much as possible. Smoking, alcohol use, excessive stress and lack of exercise should be avoided. If a woman exhibits any of the risk factors for endometrial cancer, regular pelvic examinations are a must and screening tests might be advisable.

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