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What is Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer?

 

Uterine cancer is the most diagnosed gynecologic cancer in the United States. It is also one of the most under-funded and under-researched cancers. It is estimated that About 66,570 new cases of cancer of the body of the uterus (uterine body or corpus) will be diagnosed. The uterus, or womb, is the place where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. There are different types of uterine cancer. The most common type starts in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. This type is also called endometrial cancer.

 

Uterine cancers can be of two types: Endometrial Cancer which is common and Uterine Sarcoma which is rare.

Endometrial cancer- Uterine cancer is a disease in which the cancer cells grow in the endometrium which is the lining in the uterus.

 

Signs of endometrial cancer

  • Abnormal bleeding or spotting. Irregular vaginal bleeding (between periods) Bleeding after menopause.

  • Pain during intercourse.

  • Abnormal discharge.

  • Pelvic pain.

  • Unintentional weight loss.

 

 

Uterine Sarcoma - Uterine Sarcoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the muscles of the uterus or other tissues that support the uterus.

Signs of uterine sarcoma

  • Abnormal bleeding or spotting. Irregular vaginal bleeding (between periods) Bleeding after menopause.

  • Vaginal discharge.

  • Pelvic pain.

  • Mass (tumor) that can be felt.

  • Feeling of fullness in the abdomen and/or pelvis.

  • Feeling tired.

          

 If you are experiencing any symptoms, ask your gynecologist to rule out uterine cancer!  You are your best advocate!                         

 

How is uterine cancer diagnosed?

Endometrial cancer begins inside the uterus, it does not usually show up in the results of a Pap test. For this reason, a sample of endometrial tissue must be removed and checked under a microscope to look for cancer cells. Below are five exams or procedures that aid in ruling out uterine cancer!

 

Endometrial biopsy: The removal of tissue from the endometrium by inserting a thin, flexible tube through the cervix and into the uterus. The tube is used to gently scrape a small amount of tissue from the endometrium and then remove the tissue samples. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells.

Dilatation and curettage: A procedure to remove samples of tissue from the inner lining of the uterus. The cervix is dilated, and a curette is inserted into the uterus to remove tissue. The tissue samples are checked under a microscope for signs of disease. The procedure is also called a D&C.

Hysteroscopy: A procedure to look inside the uterus for abnormal areas. A hysteroscope is inserted through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. A hysteroscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope any signs of cancer.

Physical exam and health history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits, and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken as part of the evaluation.

Transvaginal ultrasound exam: A procedure used to examine the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and bladder. An ultrasound transducer is inserted into the vagina and used to bounce high-energy sound waves off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. The doctor can identify tumors by looking at the sonogram

There are different types of treatment for patients with endometrial cancer.

                                              

There are five types of standard treatment used:

  • Surgery

  • Radiation therapy

  • Chemotherapy

  • Hormone therapy

  • Targeted therapy

Your gynecologist oncologist will go into detail regarding your specific treatment. Try to take someone to that appointment, bring a journal, and don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to understand your options. Ask your doctor about clinical trials you might qualify for. Your also entitled to a second opinion and ever be scared or ashamed to use it!