Endometrial cancer affects the endometrium in the uterus. Pelvic pain and abnormal vaginal bleeding are a few endometrial symptoms. Endometrial cancer diagnosis relies on a transvaginal ultrasound.
Endometrial cancer is a cancer type that affects your uterus. As you may know, the uterus is an essential female reproductive organ in which the fetus grows. The lining of the uterus is known as the endometrium. If cancerous cells multiply in the endometrium, the condition is referred to as endometrial cancer.
Amongst the different types of cancer affecting your uterus, endometrial cancer is known to be the most common one. Hence, it is also called uterine cancer. Uterine cancer causes a lump in your stomach that can result in lower back pain.
If a timely endometrial diagnosis is not made, it can spread quickly to other organs like ovaries, fallopian tubes, or even the urinary bladder. Keep in mind that it is different from uterine sarcoma, which affects the connective tissue of the uterus.
If you notice and treat early endometrial symptoms, it is curable. Statistics reveal that around 90% of women with cancer experience heavy vaginal bleeding . While there can be other causes of abnormal bleeding, it is better to address one of these potential endometrial symptoms of cancer with your gynecologist on time.
It is the sixth most common type of cancer affecting women on a global level . This emphasizes why the timely diagnosis of endometrial cancer is vital. To understand more about the endometrial causes, endometrial symptoms, and treatment, read on.
Additional read: What is Ovarian Cancer
Endometrial cancer causes
While the exact reason for endometrial cancer remains unknown, the fluctuations in the levels of reproductive hormones may play a role in this cancer type. When the levels of your sex hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, abnormally change, it can affect your uterus lining. An abnormal increase in estrogen levels results in rapid multiplication of the endometrial cells.
During their growth phase, if these cells undergo any genetic modifications, they form cancerous endometrial cells. The uncontrolled spread of cancerous cells forms a tumor in the endometrium. Any mutation affecting the DNA could be the reason for the conversion of healthy endometrial cells into abnormal ones.
Symptoms of endometrial cancer
Endometrial cancer causes abnormal vaginal bleeding. These endometrial symptoms affect your menstrual cycle and result in the following:
Endometrial symptoms like pelvic pain and weight loss can be observed in the later stages of endometrial cancer. However, timely diagnosis of these endometrial symptoms can prevent the progression of this cancer.
- Excessive vaginal bleeding during the menopausal phase
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Presence of vaginal bleeding in between monthly cycles
- Difficulty in urination
- Consistent pain in your pelvic region
- Unexplained weight loss
- Presence of blood spots in the vaginal discharge
- Severe pain during the intercourse
Endometrial cancer stages
If you overlook endometrial symptoms of cancer, it can progress quickly to different stages and affect other organs. Depending on the extent cancerous cells have spread, you can classify endometrial cancer into four phases.
It is treated based on its stage. During the early phase, it is easier to treat the endometrial symptoms.
Additional read: Endometriosis Symptoms and Causes
- When it affects only the uterus, it is called stage 1.
- When cancerous cells spread to the cervix from the uterus, it is called stage 2.
- When it spreads outside your uterus to organs like fallopian tubes, it is called stage 3.
- When cancerous cells spread beyond your pelvis to distant organs like the urinary bladder, it is called stage 4.
Risk factors for endometrial cancer
Increased levels of estrogen could be the primary endometrial cancer causes. This is common in the following conditions:
- If you have not become pregnant
- If your menopausal phase begins after 55 years
- If your menstruation cycle starts before 12 years
- If you are obese or diabetic
- If you have undergone radiation therapy in the pelvis
- If there is a family history of cancer
- If you have undergone estrogen replacement therapy
- If you have hypertension
Endometrial cancer diagnosis
The diagnosis of endometrial cancer is completed by using different procedures and tests. After discussing endometrial symptoms with the gynecologist, your doctor may perform an internal pelvic examination. Using a device called a speculum, your gynecologist expands your vagina. This helps detect any abnormalities in the cervix or vagina.
Transvaginal ultrasound is another method of an endometrial diagnosis. This technique uses sound waves to form a picture of your uterus. This type of endometrial cancer diagnosis helps assess the texture and thickness of the endometrium. In case of abnormalities, you may undergo the following tests to collect your uterine tissue samples.
To determine the stage of endometrial cancer, your gynecologist may ask you to undergo the following tests.
- Endometrial biopsy
- D & C method
- Pap test
- MRI scan
- Lymph node biopsy
Endometrial cancer treatment
The treatment depends on the following factors.
The most common endometrial treatment mode is surgery. Hysterectomy is a procedure in which your doctor removes the uterus. If the cancerous cells have spread to fallopian tubes and ovaries, these are removed using a method called scalping-oophorectomy. Lymphadenectomy can also check the spread of cancer in the lymph nodes.
Another treatment method is radiation therapy. This employs powerful beams like gamma rays or X-rays to fight cancerous cells. External and brachytherapy are the most common treatment methods for endometrial cancer. A few other methods for treatment include:
- Stage of the cancer
- Previous medical history
- Existing health conditions
Lack of awareness of cancer symptoms can worsen the condition. To educate people about cancer and prevent deaths, World Cancer Day is observed every year on February 4. By participating in such events, you can brush up on your knowledge of symptoms to watch out for and help yourself or your loved one at the right time.
Monitor your health, and if you notice any unusual symptoms, do meet an oncologist. For example, if you are experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding, you may connect to reputed gynecologists on Bajaj Finserv Health. Book an appointment and get a doctor's consultation within minutes. Address your endometrial symptoms or any other issues regarding your reproductive organs. A timely diagnosis can nip all problems right in the bud itself!
- Hormone therapy