Endometrial cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting the female reproductive organs. The other types of female gynecologic cancers include cervical cancer and uterine sarcoma. Endometrial cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women.
What is the endometrium? The endometrium is the lining of the uterus.
Per the National Cancer Institute: Estimated new cases of endometrial cancer in the United States in 2008 are 40,000 and 7,470 deaths.
According to the American Cancer Society the chances of a woman getting this cancer in her lifetime are 1 in 41.
Endometrial cancer is a slow growing cancer that usually affects post menopausal women. Rarely does it reach an advanced stage with no symptoms.
Signs and symptoms:
While it is not completely known why endometrial cells mutate, there are certain risk factors per the Mayo Clinic.
- Never being pregnant
- Irregular ovulation cycles
- A long history of menstruation (starting at an early age and ceasing at a later age)
- Estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy
- Ovarian tumors (many increase estrogen levels)
- Age (over40)
- Race (more likely to be diagnoses in white women with a fatal outcome more likely in black women)
- History of breast cancer or ovarian cancer
- Tamoxifen treatment history
- Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer
Referral to a specialist may include the following tests:
- Pap test
- D&C (dilation and curettage) allows scraping of uterine wall for tissue
- Hysteroscopy, which involves inserting a small telescope into the uterus
- Transvaginal ultrasound
Staging of Uterine Cancer:
Staging may be done after surgery, which may include a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries) and possible pelvic lymph node dissection.
For more detailed information on staging please visit the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center site.
Treatment for endometrial cancer, besides surgery may include chemotherapy, radiation and/or hormone therapy.
Eyes on the Prize. org , Gynecologic Cancer Support and Information
Uterine Cancer Research Program at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center whose goal is to conduct innovative research in the prevention, early detection, treatment and basic biology of endometrial cancer. Visit the site to see current clinical trial in endometrial and uterine cancer.