Cancers begin when cells mutate and grow abnormally. Naming a cancer has to do with their location in the body. Endometrial cancer is one such cancer. It is located in the endometrium. This is the lining of a woman’s uterus. In some cases, people refer to it as uterine cancer.
While a troubling and dangerous form of cancer, endometrial cancer can respond to the various treatment options available and doesn’t have to spread throughout the body. Treatment is important and depends on how quickly endometrial cancer can be diagnosed. Early diagnosis in turn is dependent on knowing the signs and symptoms of endometrial cancer. If you’re interested in learning more about endometrial carcinoma, keep reading this article for the signs, symptoms, risk factors and treatment methods!
Signs and Symptoms of Endometrial Carcinoma
There are several signs which can point to a person having endometrial cancer. The first is abnormal vaginal bleeding. Before menopause, this bleeding would occur outside the standard menstrual cycle. For women after menopause, any vaginal bleeding is a sign of something very wrong. This is the main symptom and shows itself in around 90% of cases.
Aside from that, there are other symptoms as well. Some women suffer from abnormal vaginal discharges. These can vary quite a bit. Sometimes it may be fairly watery and pinkish in color. It can range up to a thicker brown discharge that is unpleasant smelling. Some women may suffer from trouble urinating, or experience a large amount of pain during.
Some other symptoms that can possibly be felt include pain during intercourse, losing weight unexpectedly, or having an enlarged uterus. Typically, this last symptom is difficult to notice, and needs to be discovered during a pelvic exam.
Risk Factors of Developing Endometrial Carcinoma
Despite the seemingly close ties with the disease Endometriosis (in which the cells from the interior of the uterine lining instead grow on the exterior of it), a link to raising rates of endometrial cancer isn’t often seen. Endometriosis does increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
There are however many factors which can risk the chance of developing endometrial carcinoma. Some of these potential risk factors include:
- Early Menstruation - Women who start their menstrual cycle before the age of 12 are at a higher risk.
- Late Menopause - Women who undergo menopause at a later time will find themselves more at risk.
- Obesity - Obesity adds additional risk. It’s possible for obesity to alter the hormone levels within the body.
- Hormone Balance Changes - The ovaries are responsible for making the two main female hormones. If these fluctuate in any degree, it can cause changes within the endometrium that may increase the risk of cancer. There are a wide variety of diseases that can affect the ovaries in such a way.
- Age - As a woman ages, her potential for getting endometrial carcinoma increases with it.
- Hormone Therapy - It’s not surprise that hormone therapy can be an increased risk factor, considering the hormonal balance factor mentioned already. This hormone therapy is most common for women who are suffering from breast cancer.
- Inherited Conditions - There are some diseases which can increase the risk of endometrial carcinoma. Specifically, Lynch syndrome is one which increases the risk of several cancers including endometrial.
Treatment of Endometrial Carcinoma
The main method for treatment of endometrial carcinoma is surgery. Specifically, a surgery to fully remove the uterus. This is known as a hysterectomy. During the procedure, the fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed as well. This ends the possibility of pregnancy, but is necessary considering the alternatives of letting the cancer run rampant. During the procedure, a doctor will also look for signs of the cancer spreading.
In some cases, surgery may not be an option. Radiation therapy involves using energy beams to reduce or stop the growth of cancer. It’s often used before or after surgery as a complement as well. Some women may undergo chemotherapy. This is a chemical method in which drugs are used to eliminate cancer cells. It’s especially used as a method to try to keep cancer from returning post surgery, or before surgery to try to ensure 100% removal of the cancer. There are other options including immunotherapy, palliative care, targeted drug therapy and hormone therapy which can be an option if a doctor believes they are best for each case.
Potential prevention is often the best form of treatment in this case. Many people have chosen to ensure they eat healthy to try to avoid obesity. Subscribing to a meal service or scheduling a visit with a nutritionist can help avoid obesity, which is a common risk factor. Many women have chosen to purchase exercise equipment or accessories with the same goals in mind.