Comprehensive Cancer Centers is passionate about raising awareness about cancer risks, and to provide recommendations for appropriate precautions. This includes insights for conducting self-exams or simple protocols for regular screening based on age, family history, personal cancer history, or other factors that elevate risks. One cancer risk for women that merits close attention, and can benefit from early detection, is uterine cancer, or cancer of the uterus.
Uterine cancer consists of two specific types with 95 percent of uterine cancers due to endometrial carcinoma. The endometrium is the lining layer of the uterine cavity where most cancers of the uterus beginning due to cancerous changes in the lining. With cases of endometrial cancer, cells in the endometrial lining grow out of control and may metastasize and spread outside of the uterus to other parts of the body include ovaries, lymph nodes, abdomen.
Five percent of uterine cancers are due to uterine sarcoma. Uterine sarcoma involves either formation of malignant cells inside uterine muscle or of the secondary support cells inside the uterine lining. While these cases are not nearly as common as endometrial carcinoma, it can be detected using self and physician directed screening protocols
How to Detect Signs of Uterine Cancer
Vaginal Bleeding and/or Discharge: There are several signs to notice for early detection for cancer of the uterus, with the primary method of detection coming from monitoring abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge. This includes heavy bleeding in between periods or post-menopause. Post-menopausal bleeding affects women over the age of 55, and its occurrence is something to be brought up immediately with a primary physician and gynecologists.
Hormonal Imbalances: Ovaries produce two hormones: estrogen, and progesterone. In the case of a medical condition that causes a spike in estrogen levels, the risk of developing uterine cancer may also increase. Medical conditions that are known to cause the hormonal shift include diabetes, obesity, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Ingesting estrogen-containing hormones also increases the risk of endometrial cancer.
Family Cancer History: A syndrome known as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC, may increase the risk of several types of cancer, including colon cancer and endometrial cancer. HNPCC is a genetic mutation that is passed from parent or child. As always, discuss any known family history of cancer or pre-cancer syndromes and conditions with your physician.
Early menstruation: Women who begin the menstrual cycle at a relatively early age, around 12 years, appear to be at a higher risk of developing uterine cancer. A link exists between elevated estrogen levels and the onset of endometrial cancer. Because she experiences more periods, her uterus is exposed to estrogen longer.
Obesity: Obesity alters female hormones, increasing the likelihood of uterine cancer onset. Numerous studies have demonstrated the relationship between high levels of estrogen and obesity. Studies have also noted the probable connection between elevated estrogen levels and various cancer types, including breast cancer and uterine cancer.
Additional warning signs include previous cases of ovarian tumors, previously being treated with radiation therapy and Endometrial Hyperplasia.
Pognosis and Treatment of Uterine Cancer
Should warning signs present, and a primary care physician or gynecologist call for additional testing. Comprehensive Cancer’s medical oncology team may suggest the following treatment options, should cancer be found:
- Surgery (commonly, a hysterectomy)
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapy (use of drugs or other substances to kill cancerous cells.)
Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help
Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada provide a variety of treatment options including: chemotherapy, radiation therapy and clinical research for the treatment of cancer. For a complete list of clinical research studies currently being conducted at Comprehensive, please click here. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.
The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.