What are the symptoms of Endometrial Cancer
Endometrial cancer is the most common pelvic cancer in women. Fortunately, it is also the easiest to cure. Cancer of the uterus is called endometrial cancer because the vast majority starts in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. It is slow growing and occurs after menopause, though it may occur earlier if risk factors are present. As a whole, those at greatest risk for endometrial cancer are women who:
- Are over age 55
- Have a previous history of menstrual irregularity(irregular periods)
- Have had sporadic ovulation or never ovulate
- Started their menstrual cycle early and went into menopause later than most women
- Have been on prolonged estrogen therapy (without progesterone). Studies show that most endometrial cancers are estrogen-dependent.
- Are obese (fat is a building block for hormones, such as estrogen)
Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer
- Irregular bleeding, with or without discomfort, is the most common symptom.
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Irregular menstrual periods and/or bleeding between periods in premenopausal women
- Pain and weight loss in the late stages of the disease (as with all other forms of cancer, pain and weight loss do not accompany the early stages)
What you can do
- Report any abnormal bleeding or spotting, even if it is just a pink stain, to your gynecologist.
- Read up on the disease so you can work well with your doctor during treatment.
- In your doctor’s clinic, exchange notes with similar problems. You could pick up valuable information this way.
- Build general health.
What your doctor can do
- If gynecologic tests point to the possibility of endometrial cancer, or if there is bleeding between periods or unexpected bleeding in menopausal women, your doctor may perform a suction curettage and biopsy or a surgical D and C (dilation and curettage). A pathologist examines tissue scrapings.
- A precancerous condition, such as typical hyperplasia, can be treated with several weeks of progesterone.
- Endometrial cancer in its early stages (when the tumor in confined to the uterus or its spread is limited to the pelvis) is almost 100 percent curable if treated with total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (surgical removal of the uterus, both fallopian tubes and both ovaries), followed by radiation/chemotherapy treatment, if needed.
- See your gynecologist for a yearly exam, especially if you are sexually active.
- If you are on the pill, ask your doctor for a low-estrogen brand.
- If you are considering estrogen replacement therapy to relieve postmenopausal problems, get an examination of your endometrium firs to detect either cancer of precancerous changes. Those taking estrogen regularly should also undergo a yearly examination.
- Remember that the greater the dose of estrogen and the longer it is used, the greater the risk. Apparently, a low dose of estrogen combined with progesterone reduces this risk.