Uterine Cancer

Overview

  • Uterine cancer begins in the uterus, in a woman’s pelvis where a baby grows during pregnancy.
  • A woman’s hormone balance plays a role in the development of most uterine cancers.
  • While abnormal bleeding is a common sign of uterine cancer, vaginal bleeding or spotting, abnormal vaginal discharge and pelvic pain or pressure are other noted symptoms.

Risk Factors

  • Endometrial hyperplasia or abnormal overgrowth in the lining of the uterus
  • Family history of mother, sister or daughter with uterine cancer
  • Menstrual history: Women that had their first menstrual cycle before the age of 12 and / or underwent menopause after the age of 55
  • History of having radiation therapy to the pelvis
  • History of taking estrogen alone (no progesterone) for menopausal hormone therapy
  • No pregnancies
  • Obesity

Symptoms

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, spotting, or discharge
  • Pain or difficulty when emptying the bladder
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the pelvic area

Diagnosis

Although symptoms may suggest that cancer is present, the use of diagnostic imaging, biopsies and other tests can help confirm whether the cancer really exists. The following are tests that may be conducted in diagnosing uterine cancer:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Chest X-ray
  • Endometrial biopsy
  • Hysteroscopy
  • Dilation and curettege
  • Blood tests

Treatment Options

Treatment options may consist of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapyor any combination of these treatments.

  • Surgery is the most common treatment option where the surgeon may remove the uterus and possibly surrounding tissues and organs which may be affected
  • Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses anti-cancer drugs to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy radiation beams to eliminate cancer cells or stop them from growing. Radiation therapy consists of external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy or internal radiation therapy.
  • External beam is a treatment option that uses localized high energy radiation beams to eliminate cancer cells and keep them from growing.
  • Brachy therapy uses a radioactive substance, usually in the form of seeds which are placed directly into or near the cancer which helps to shrink the tumor.