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Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer

WHAT IS UTERINE CANCER?

A cancerous growth of the endometrium.

SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED

Post- menopausal women, usually between ages 50 and 60.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

Early stages:

  • Post menopausal bleeding or spotting, especially after sexual intercourse. This often occurs after menstrual activity has ceased for 12 months or more. A watery or blood-streaked vaginal discharge may precede bleeding or spotting.
  • Cramps in the lower abdomen.
  • Enlarged uterus. It is sometimes large enough to be felt from out.

Later stages:

  • Spread to other organs causing abdominal pain, chest pain and weight loss.

CAUSES

Unknown. But may be due to increased levels of natural estrogen in the body

RISK INCREASES WITH

  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Obesity.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Use of estrogen without progesterone.
  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
  • History of menstrual cycles without ovulation, uterine polyps or other signs of hormone imbalance.
  • Infertility
  • Early menarche
  • Late menopause

HOW TO PREVENT

DIAGNOSTIC MEASURES

  • Observation of symptoms, especially abnormal bleeding.
  • History and examination by a doctor.
  • Laboratory blood studies and Pap smear (although this is only 40% accurate in detecting this condition).
  • Surgical diagnostic procedures, such as uterine biopsy or dilatation and curettage, hysteroscopy.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS

  • Fatal spread of cancer to the bladder, rectum and distant organs.
  • Anemia due to chronic blood loss.

PROBABLE OUTCOME

With early diagnosis and treatment, 90% of patients survive at least 5 years.

TREATMENT

GENERAL MEASURES

In early stages of the disease your doctor may recommend hysterectomy. If in an advanced stage, radiation therapy will be required in addition to surgery.

MEDICATION

Your doctor may prescribe:

ACTIVITY

Normal activities can be resumed as soon as symptoms improve after treatment. Discuss concerns regarding sexual activity with your partner and doctor. In most cases, full sexual activity after therapy should be resumed as soon as possible.

DIET

No special diet, but eat a well-balanced diet--even if you lose your appetite from radiation or drug therapy. Vitamin and mineral supplements are helpful but should never be taken without doctors consent as some vitamins may nullify effects of anti cancer drugs. Work with a dietitian to plan nutritious and appetizing meals.

CALL YOUR DOCTOR, IF

  • You have suspicious symptoms.
  • The following occurs after surgery:
    • Excessive bleeding (soaking a pad or tampoon at least once an hour).
    • Signs of infection, such as fever, muscle aches and headache.
  • New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.
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