Uterine Cancer which is also known as Endometrial Cancer is characterized by the irregular growth of cells in the Uterus. The uterus, or womb, is the place where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. There are different types of Uterine Cancers; the most common type starts in the Endometrium (lining of the Uterus). Uterine cancer usually happens after Menopause and it is more common in women who are obese. You may also be at risk if you have taken ‘Estrogen-only’Hormone Replacement Therapy (menopausal hormone therapy) for many years.
The 2ndmost common type of Uterine Cancer develops in the supporting tissues of the Uterus, including muscle, fat, bone and fibrous tissue. A 3rdtype of Cancer called Carcinosarcoma sometimes develops in the Uterus. It has features of both Carcinomas and Sarcomas. Normally, the majority of women diagnosed with Uterine Cancer are peri or post-menopausal between the ages of 50-65Years and the average age at diagnosis is 61Yrs.
Due to an active family life and a demanding work schedules, women hardly have time for themselves. So it’s easy to brush off such symptoms; it is therefore crucial for women not to ignore the signs & get themselves screened, so immediate treatment can commence, if required. One must also understand that the top causes of Uterine Cancer are – Hypertension, Hypothyroidism, Diabetes & Obesity.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS FOR ENDOMETRIAL CANCER:
(1) UNUSUAL VAGINAL BLEEDING: This is one of the most common symptoms of Uterine Cancer, whether it’s in between your periods, after sex, or after menopause. Unusual vaginal bleeding is usually a symptom of advanced Uterine Cancer, because it means that the tumor is spreading. Any post-menopausal bleeding, unless proven otherwise, should be suspected for Cancer!
(2) PAIN DURING INTERCOURSE: A less common sign of Uterine Cancer is pain in the lower stomach and pain during intercourse. Unlike Cervical Cancer, tests like Pelvic Exam and PAP Smear Test don’t accurately spot this type of Cancer, so it’s worth taking note of any subtle yet evident changes in your body
(3) PELVIC PAIN: Pain in the pelvic region could take place due to a number of possibilities; Uterus Cancer could be one of them. Rule out other reasons for pelvic pain and see if it remains to prevail along with other symptoms of Uterus Cancer. If yes, check with your doctor for the possibility. This symptom is typically seen in the later stages of this disease
(4) LOSS OF APPETITE AND FATIGUE: Other symptoms to look out for are fluctuations in your appetite and energy levels; but as these symptoms are superficial, it can be difficult to pinpoint. See a GP if you’re worried about Uterine Cancer – mainly if you have bleeding after the menopause or notice a change in the normal pattern of your period.
(5) DIFFICULTY IN URINATING: Difficulty in urinating is typically a symptom of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). However, in some cases, it could be an indication of Uterus Cancer as well. Check with your doctor as soon as possible.
(6) SUDDEN WEIGHT LOSS: Losing a couple of pounds brings happiness to most women. However, if that happens without any reason or trigger, it could be something to worry about. In some cases, sudden weight loss takes place due to an underlying health condition like Uterus Cancer.
Speak to your doctor about the treatment; treatment of Uterine Cancer comprises of Hysterectomy and Radiation Therapy, which play the primary role. Chemotherapy plays a very small role in the treatment of this type of Cancer.
FEW PREVENTION METHODS:
- Regular health check-ups
- Regular exercise
- Follow a good diet plan
- Maintain ideal body weight
- Talk to your doctor before adopting Hormone Therapy
- Seek treatment for Endometrial problems
(Disclaimer: The writer is Dr Donald Babu,Surgical Oncologist, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)