Endometrial cancer is a cancer arising from the tissue of the uterus, according to Mayo Clinic. The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ in females where fetal development occurs. The top of the organ is fundus, the middle is the cervix, the inner layer is the endometrium and the inner is the myometrium.
Endometrial cancer begins in the layers of the cells that forms the lining of the uterus. This lining is called 'endometrium'. Other forms of cancer that can form in the uterus including uterine cercoma, but they are not as common as endometrial cancer.
If left untreated, endometrial cancer can spread to the rectum, fallopian tubes, ovaries or other organs.
Here's more about the causes, diagnosis and treatment for endometrial cancer.
Endometrial Cancer: Causes
The exact reason for endometrial cancer is unknown. Some experts suggest that high level of estrogen can be responsible for the condition. According to John Hopkins Medicine, if there is a shift between the two female hormones namely, progesterone and estrogen, the ednometrium can change.
This means increased estrogen without the corresponding increased progesterone can result in the thickening of the endometrium and increase the likelihood of cell abnormalities and cancer.
What is known for sure is that something triggers a genetic mutation within the cells in the endometrium. These causes normal cells in the endometrium to become abnormal and multiply rapidly to form a tumour.
According to Mayo Clinic and John Hopkins Medicine, certain factors that may increase the risk of endometrial cancer include
Obesity (approximately 40% of the cases are related to obesity)
Estrogen replacement therapy when not balanced with progestin
Use of tamoxifen
Weaken Immune System
Endometrial Cancer: Symptoms
According to the American Cancer Society, the symptoms of endometrial cancer include:
Bleeding between periods
Periods that last longer
Vaginal Bleeding or discharge not related to periods
Pelvic or lower abdominal pain
Pain during sex
Pain during urination
Endometrial Cancer: Diagnosis
According to Healthline, the doctor will review your family and medical history and will carry out certain tests that may include:
Pelvic examination where a careful inspection of the uterus, vagina, bladder and rectum is carried out to check for any abnormalities.
Transvaginal ultrasound is carried out to look at the thickness and texture of the endometrium, it also helps rule out other conditions.
Hysteroscopy allows your doctor to examine and visualise the inside of the uterus and endometrium.
Endometrial biopsy where the small portion of the tissue from the endometrium is removed for testing in the lab.
Dilation and curretage, a procedure to remove the tissue from the inner lining of the uterus. This is done if enough tissue can be removed during a biopsy or the biopsy results are unclear.
Endometrial Cancer: Stages
The stages of the cancer is based on how far the cancer has spread. This helps doctors determine the best treatment options. Tests such as chest X-ray, CT scan and blood tests can be used to determine your cancer stage. There are four stages of endometrial cancer according to American Cancer Society.
In stage I, cancer is confined to the uterus.
In stage II, cancer is present in both the uterus and cervix
In stage III, cancer has spread beyond uterus but has not spread to the rectum or bladder.
In stage IV, cancer has spread to the rectum, bladder and more distant parts of the body
Endomertial Cancer: Treatment
The stage, your health and the preference of the doctor determines the treatment option. According to Mayo Clinic, treatment option may include:
Surgery to remove the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Radiation therapy that uses powerful energy beams like X-rays to kill the cancer cells.
Hormonal therapy which may include medicines to either increase the levels of progesterone or decrease the levels of estrogen in the body.
Chemotherapy that involves using medicines injected intravenously or orally to kill the cancer cells.
Supportive care that aims to improve the quality of life for the cancer patients and their families is helpful.
(This article is for your general information only. Before trying out any remedy or treatment, FIT advises you to consult a qualified medical professional.)
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)