Some factors which increase the chances of a woman having uterine cancer
We do know that some women are more likely than others to develop uterine cancer.
Abnormal overgrowth of the endometrium (endometrial hyperplasia): An abnormal increase in the number of cells in the lining of the uterus is a risk factor for uterine cancer. Hyperplasia is not cancer, but sometimes it develops into cancer. Common symptoms of this condition are heavy menstrual periods, bleeding between periods, and bleeding after menopause. Hyperplasia is most common after age 40.
Obesity: Women who are obese have a greater chance of developing uterine cancer.
Reproductive and menstrual history: Women are at increased risk of uterine cancer if at least one of the following apply:
Have never had children
Had their first menstrual period before age 12
Went through menopause after age 55
History of taking estrogen alone: The risk of uterine cancer is higher among women who used estrogen alone (without progesterone) for menopausal hormone therapy for many years.
History of taking tamoxifen: Women who took the drug tamoxifen to prevent or treat breast cancer are at increased risk of uterine cancer.
History of having radiation therapy to the pelvis: Women who had radiation therapy to the pelvis are at increased risk of uterine cancer.
Family health history: Women with a mother, sister, or daughter with uterine cancer are at increased risk of developing the disease. Also, women in families that have an inherited form of colorectal cancer (known as Lynch syndrome) are at increased risk of uterine cancer.
Many women who get uterine cancer have none of these risk factors, and many women who have known risk factors don’t develop the disease.
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.
These are common symptoms of uterine cancer:
Abnormal vaginal bleeding, spotting, or discharge
Pain or difficulty when emptying the bladder
Pain during sex
Pain in the pelvic area
These symptoms may be caused by uterine cancer or by other health problems. Women with these symptoms should tell their doctor so that any problem can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
If you have symptoms that suggest uterine cancer, your doctor will try to find out what’s causing the problems.
You may have a physical exam and blood tests. Also, you may have one or more of the following tests:
Pelvic exam: Your doctor can check your uterus, vagina, and nearby tissues for any lumps or changes in shape or size.
Ultrasound: 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).
Biopsy: 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.
If cancer is found, the pathologist studies tissue samples from the uterus under a microscope to learn the grade of the tumor. The grade may suggest how fast the tumor is likely to grow.
Tumors with higher grades tend to grow faster than those with lower grades. Tumors with higher grades are also more likely to spread. Doctors use tumor grade along with other factors to suggest treatment options.
If uterine cancer is diagnosed, your doctor needs to learn the extent (stage) of the disease to help you choose the best treatment. The stage is based on whether the cancer has invaded nearby tissues or spread to other parts of the body. In most cases, surgery is needed to learn the stage of uterine cancer. The surgeon removes the uterus and may take tissue samples from the pelvis and abdomen. After the uterus is removed, it is checked to see how deeply the tumor has grown. Also, the other tissue samples are checked for cancer cells.
To learn whether uterine cancer has spread, your doctor may order one or more tests prior to surgery: like PAP test, Ca 125, Chest Xray, Ct scan or MRI
These are the stages of uterine cancer:
Stage I: The tumor has grown through the inner lining of the uterus to the endometrium. It may have invaded the myometrium.
Stage II: The tumor has invaded the cervix.
Stage III: The tumor has grown through the uterus to reach nearby tissues, such as the vagina or a lymph node.
Stage IV: The tumor has invaded the bladder or intestine. Or, cancer cells have spread to parts of the body far away from the uterus, such as the liver, lungs, or bones.
Treatment options for people with uterine cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. You may receive more than one type of treatment.
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
Your treatment (Here in Kolkata, India) will be planned by a team of specialists through a tumour board. Specialists who treat uterine cancer include gynecologic oncologists (doctors who specialize in treating female cancers), medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. Your health care team can describe your treatment choices, the expected results of each, and the possible side effects. Because cancer therapy often damages healthy cells and tissues, side effects are common. Before treatment starts, ask your health care team about possible side effects and how treatment may change your normal activities. You and your health care team can work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.