post-menapausal women are at risk
Uterine cancer usually occurs after menopause. Approximately 25% of cases occur in premenapausal women. Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer. Being obese and taking estrogen-alone hormone replacement therapy (also called menopausal hormone therapy) may also increase your risk.
The majority of uterine cancer cases are diagnosed in early stages and most patients will do well with surgery and minimal adjuvant treatment.
The most common symptom of uterine cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding. It may start as a watery, blood-streaked flow that gradually contains more blood. After menopause, any vaginal bleeding is abnormal.
The symptoms of uterine cancer include:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Trouble urinating
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
You may have a physical exam and blood tests. Also, you may have one or more of the following tests:
Your doctor can check your uterus, vagina, and nearby tissues for any lumps or changes in shape or size.
An ultrasound device uses sound waves that can’t be heard by humans. The sound waves make a pattern of echoes as they bounce off organs inside the pelvis. The echoes create a picture of your uterus and nearby tissues. The picture can show a uterine tumor. For a better view of the uterus, the device may be inserted into the vagina (transvaginal ultrasound).
The removal of tissue to look for cancer cells is a biopsy. A thin tube is inserted through the vagina into your uterus. Your doctor uses gentle scraping and suction to remove samples of tissue. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. In most cases, a biopsy is the only sure way to tell whether cancer is present.
Treatment options for people with uterine cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. You may receive more than one type of treatment.
Treatment is usually a hysterectomy, which is surgery to remove the uterus. The ovaries and fallopian tubes are also removed.
The treatment that’s right for you depends mainly on the following:
- Whether the tumor has invaded the muscle layer of the uterus
- Whether the tumor has invaded tissues outside the uterus
- Whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body
- The grade of the tumor
- Your age and general health
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be used after surgery to treat uterine cancer that has an increased risk of returning after treatment.
For example, uterine cancer that is a high grade or is Stage II, III, or IV may be more likely to return.
Also, chemotherapy may be given to women whose uterine cancer can’t be completely removed by surgery or have advanced stage or high risk cell types or features. For advanced cancer, it may be used alone or with radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy is an option for women with all stages of uterine cancer. It may be used before or after surgery.
For women who can’t have surgery for other medical reasons, radiation therapy may be used instead to destroy cancer cells in the uterus.
Women with cancer that invades tissue beyond the uterus may have radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Hormone therapy may be used for women with advanced uterine cancer.