Uterine cancer : Are you at risk ?
Cancer is when body cells grow out of control.The uterus , also known as the womb is an important reproductive organ. It is where a baby grows when a woman becomes pregnant. The are different types of uterine cancers, the most common of which starts in the endometrium which is the lining of the uterus. As a result, this type of cancer is sometimes known as endometrial cancer.
Who is at risk ?
Any woman can get uterine cancer, however your risk increases if you fall into the following category.
- older than 50 years old
- have close family with a history of ovarian, colon and uterine cancer
- take estrogen alone ( without progesterone) as a hormone replacement therapy
- have trouble getting pregnant or have fewer than 5 periods in a year before starting menopause
- take tamoxifen which is a drug used to treat certain types of breast cancer.
What are the symptoms of uterine cancer ?
Symptoms of uterine cancer include the following :
- pelvic pain
- painful intercourse
- vaginal bleeding in between periods
- vaginal bleeding after menopause
- trouble urinating
If you have bleeding that is not normal especially after you have gone through menopause, call your doctor right away. Call your doctor right away if you experience the other signs for longer than 2 weeks.
How is uterine cancer diagnosed ?
If you’re experiencing symptoms of uterine cancer, your doctor will do the following tests.
- pelvic exam of the uterus, vagina, and nearby tissues for any lumps or changes in shape or size.
- ultrasound to look at organs inside the pelvis
- biopsy to remove tissues in the uterus to look for cancer cells
How is uterine cancer treated ?
Treatment depends on your overall health, how advanced the cancer is and whether hormones affect its growth. Treatment options include :
- surgery (hysterectomy which is the removal of the uterus ). The fallopian tubes and ovaries are also removed
- hormone therapy
Can uterine cancer be prevented ?
Some of the ways you can reduce your risk include the following :
- consider taking birth control pills . Taking oral contraceptives for at least one year may reduce your risk for uterine cancer
- maintain a healthy weight
- stay active
- discuss the risk of hormone therapy after menopause with your doctor. Unless you have undergone a hysterectomy, replacing estrogen alone after menopause may increase your risk of uterine cancer
Uterine cancer. National library of medicine. medlinePlus. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/uterinecancer.html. Accessed February 23, 2016
Uterine cancer. Center for Disease Control and Prevention CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/uterine/index.htm. Accessed February 23, 2016