Endometrial Cancer: Causes, Types, Symptoms and Treatment
Endometrial cancer is most common in western countries. Contrastingly, in India, the rates are as low as 4.2 per 100,000 in Bangalore. However, if left untreated, this disease can spread to other parts of your body.
This article is to help you learn more about this disease and all endometrial symptoms to prevent further difficulties.
Give it a read!
What Is Endometrial Cancer and Its Types
Before delving deeper into the possible causes of endometrial cancer, you should know where the disease actually starts in the uterus. The body of a uterus contains 2 main layers, myometrium and endometrium. The latter part goes through different changes during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, etc. Also, this is the place where endometrial cancer takes place and can further spread to the bladder, ovaries, etc., if not diagnosed early.
Medical researchers have found different types of endometrial cancer on the basis of how the cells look under a microscope. Here they are -
- Small cell carcinoma
- Uterine carcinosarcoma or CS
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Serous carcinoma
- Transitional carcinoma
Depending on the type of endometrial cancer you are suffering from, both the symptoms and spread of this disease will vary. For instance, type 1 endometrial cancer does not spread to other tissues quickly. On the other hand, type 2 cancers can easily spread outside the uterus.
Since its warning signs slightly differ depending on the intensity of this disease, make sure to look out for them to avoid the spread.
The Symptoms for Endometrial Cancer
Here are some common symptoms people suffering from this disease can observe -
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding after menopause or between menstrual periods
- Severe pelvic pain and painful urination
- Watery or blood-tinged vaginal discharge
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Even though type 1 endometrial cancer develops slowly and is highly curable if detected early, lack of knowledge regarding this disease makes it difficult to identify it.
What Are the Causes of Endometrial Cancer?
It is difficult to explain the exact reasons behind endometrial cancer. However, health researchers have found out that something occurs to create changes in the DNA of endometrium cells. This way, the healthy cells slowly turn into abnormal cells, and the accumulation of multiple abnormal cells form a tumour.
Even though this disease cannot be prevented, women can at least look out for endometrial symptoms and know its risk factors to keep themselves safe.
Note that the risks are higher in case postmenopausal women who experience the following things -
- Getting their first period early.
- Suffering from diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Having a history of irregular periods, obesity, infertility, or abnormal cells in the endometrium.
- In case any of the family members had a history of colorectal, endometrial or breast cancer.
What Are the Stages in Endometrial Cancer?
On the basis of how much this disease can spread throughout different parts of a human body, endometrial cancer is classified into 4 stages, such as -
- The presence of this cancer is only limited to the uterus.
- Both the uterus and cervix are affected by the disease.
- It might have spread outside the uterus but still hasn't reached the bladder or rectum area. At this stage, it can also be present in the vagina, fallopian tubes, ovaries, or nearby lymph nodes.
- Endometrial cancer has spread beyond pelvic area. However, it can be present in the rectum, bladder or distant organs.
Note that based on different stages of endometrial cancer, its treatment process will automatically differ. If this disease is detected at its early stages, patients will inevitably get more treatment options and time to get cured.
How to Diagnose Endometrial Cancer?
Endometrial treatment cannot be started if gynaecologists are not completely sure about the spread and location of this disease. Generally, the treatment process of cancer tends to get aggressive, and patients experience a lot of side effects. Therefore, proper diagnosis is necessary before you undergo any of those therapies.
The first step is to carry out a pelvic exam to check if there are abnormalities present in your uterus, and to examine a tumour’s presence. You may also undergo a transvaginal ultrasound exam.
Apart from these, following are some additional tests doctors might ask you to take -
- Endometrial Biopsy: In this endometrial cancer diagnosis process, a thin, flexible tube is inserted through your cervix into the uterus in order to remove a sample of tissue from that part.
- Dilation and Curettage (D&C): In case biopsy results do not have much clarity, doctors can collect another sample of endometrial tissue using this particular technique.
- Hysteroscopy: This involves inserting a thin tube comprising a fibre-optic camera into the uterus.
Once all endometrial cancer symptoms and test results confirm that the patient is suffering from this disease, the doctor will recommend treatment plans based on subtype and stage of cancer.
Recommended Treatments for Endometrial Cancer
Each treatment type comes with certain risks. These, along with the overall health condition of a patient, needs close examination before proceeding with treatment.
Generally, doctors suggest following treatment options for endometrial cancer -
- Radiation Therapy
- Hormone Therapy
So, in case you are observing any endometrial symptoms mentioned in this article, contact your doctor immediately.