Uterine cancer is also known as cancer of the womb and endometrial cancer. By the end of 2010, an estimated 43,470 women will have been diagnosed with uterine cancer in the USA. Unfortunately in recent years this type of female cancer has been rapidly increasing. Medical professionals think this may be due to increasing obesity, poor diets and the fact that women are having fewer children.
Who Gets Uterine Cancer?
Any woman can get uterine cancer, but there are certain groups of women who are more at risk of developing it. They are:
• Women who are post-menopausal. The majority of cases occur in women aged 50 to 64.
• Women who are obese.
• Women who take estrogen only HRT or who have taken any form of HRT for more than five years.
• Women who have not given birth.
• Women who have never been pregnant.
• Women who have taken Tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancer.
• Women who have had polycystic ovarian syndrome.
What are the Symptoms of Uterine Cancer?
Symptoms of uterine cancer are abnormal vaginal bleeding, namely heavy bleeding during the menstrual period or bleeding that occurs after the menopause.
Abdominal pain, back pain and leg pain can also occur, as well as pain during sexual intercourse.
These symptoms are also symptoms of many other conditions and having them does not mean you have cancer, but it is wise to be checked by a doctor to rule out the possibility, particularly if you are in a high risk group.
How is Uterine Cancer Diagnosed?
There are several tests that can be performed to diagnose uterine cancer. These are:
Dilation and Curettage (D+C) – this is a procedure where the lining of the womb is suctioned out with a small instrument under a general anesthetic. The extracted tissue can then be examined to see if there are any traces of cancer. Having a D+C carries a small risk of asherman’s syndrome (a scarring disease of the uterus), infertility, cervical incompetence and perforation of the uterus. Perforation of the uterus is a life threatening event but can be fixed by surgery.