Endometrial Cancer: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments
The uterus is the organ in the reproductive system in females that accommodates the embryonic and foetal development of one or more embryos until birth. It is a hormone-responsive sex organ that contains glands in its lining that secrete uterine milk for embryonic nourishment.
Endometrial cancer is a kind of uterine cancer that develops from the inner lining of the uterus. This lining is called the endometrium. Experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding is normally the main symptom of endometrial cancer, but this could be a sign of more benign health conditions as well.
If you have symptoms that could be a sign of endometrial cancer or another gynaecological condition, make an appointment with your doctor. Your chances of remission rise with early diagnosis and therapy.
What is Endometrial Cancer?
A proliferation of cells in the uterus is the precursor of endometrial cancer, a particular form of cancer. The uterus is the pear-shaped, hollow pelvic organ where foetal development happens.
The layer of cells that make up the endometrium, or uterine lining, is where endometrial cancer first appears. Endometrial cancer is sometimes called uterine cancer. One of the many malignancies that may arise in the uterus is uterine sarcoma, albeit it is far less common than endometrial cancer.
Due to its symptoms, endometrial cancer is frequently discovered at an early stage. Often the first symptom is irregular vaginal bleeding. Early detection of endometrial cancer generally results in a cure through uterus removal surgery.
What are the Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer?
Abnormal vaginal bleeding is one of endometrial cancer’s most prevalent symptoms. This can include:
- vaginal bleeding after menopause
- spotting between menstrual periods or vaginal bleeding
- changes in the heaviness or length of menstrual periods
Other potential symptoms of endometrial cancer include:
- unintentional weight loss
- pain during sex
- pain in the pelvis or lower abdomen
- watery or blood-tinged vaginal discharge
Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any of these signs. These symptoms are not necessarily a sign of a serious condition, but it is important to get them checked out.
Menopause or other noncancerous diseases can result in abnormal vaginal bleeding. But in some cases, it is a sign of endometrial cancer or other types of gynaecological cancer.
What Causes Endometrial Cancer?
The cause of endometrial cancer is not known. What is known is that something happens to cells in the lining of the uterus that changes them into cancer cells.
When cells in the uterine lining (also known as the endometrium) experience DNA alterations, endometrial cancer develops. The DNA of a cell contains the instructions that inform the cell what to do. The adjustments instruct the cells to proliferate fast. When healthy cells would naturally expire as a part of their life cycle, the alterations instruct the cells to stay alive instead. There are a lot of additional cells as a result. Tumours, or masses made of cells, may result. The cells can penetrate and demolish healthy biological tissue. The cells may eventually separate and spread to other bodily regions.
What is the Treatment for Endometrial Cancer?
Endometrial cancer is typically first treated with surgery to remove the cancer. This might include removing the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. Other treatment options might include radiation therapy or treatments using medicines to kill the cancer cells. Options for treating your endometrial cancer will depend on the characteristics of your cancer, such as your preferences, your general health and the stage.
Treatment for endometrial cancer normally involves an operation to remove the uterus, called a hysterectomy. Treatment also typically includes the removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries, called a salpingo-oophorectomy.
To check for evidence of cancer spread, your surgeon will also examine the regions around your uterus during surgery. Your surgeon also might remove lymph nodes for testing. This helps determine your cancer’s stage.
Radiation therapy uses powerful energy to kill cancer cells. The energy can come from protons, X-rays or other sources. In certain situations, radiation therapy might be recommended before surgery. Radiation therapy can shrink a tumour and make it easier to remove.
If you are not healthy enough to undergo surgery, you might opt for radiation therapy only.
Radiation therapy can involve:
- Radiation from a machine outside your body – You lie on a table while receiving external beam radiation, which uses a machine to target particular areas of your body with radiation.
- Radiation placed inside your body – Internal radiation, called brachytherapy, involves a radiation-filled device, such as a cylinder, wires or small seeds. For a brief length of time, this device is inserted into your vagina.
Chemotherapy uses strong medicines to kill cancer cells. Some people receive 1 chemotherapy medicine. Others receive 2 or more medicines together. While some chemotherapy medications must be taken orally, the majority are administered intravenously. These medications destroy cancer cells by entering the bloodstream and then moving throughout the body.
Chemotherapy is sometimes used after surgery to lower the risk that the cancer may return. Chemotherapy also can be used before surgery to shrink the cancer. This increases the likelihood that the malignancy will be eliminated after surgery.
Chemotherapy might be recommended for treating advanced endometrial cancer that has spread beyond the uterus or to treat cancer that has come back.
Hormone treatment involves taking medications to reduce the body’s hormone levels. As a result, cancer cells that rely on hormones to drive their development may perish. Hormone therapy might be an option if you have advanced endometrial cancer that has spread beyond the uterus.
Drugs that target certain chemicals in cancer cells are used in targeted treatment. Targeted therapies can make cancer cells perish by obstructing these substances. Targeted therapy is typically combined with chemotherapy for treating advanced endometrial cancer.
Immunotherapy makes use of drugs that boost the body’s natural defences against cancer cells. The immune system fights off diseases by attacking germs and other cells that should not be in the body. Cancer cells evade the immune system to live. Immunotherapy helps the immune system cells discover and kill the cancer cells. If the disease is advanced and previous therapies have failed for endometrial cancer, immunotherapy may be tried.
Palliative care is a special type of health care that helps you feel better when you have a serious illness. If you have cancer, palliative care can help relieve pain and other symptoms. Palliative care is done by a team of healthcare professionals. This can include nurses, doctors and other experts with specialised training. They want to make life better for you and your loved ones.
You can have palliative care at the same time as strong cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which might lead to cancer patients feeling better and living longer.
The inner lining of the uterus is where endometrial cancer first manifests itself. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the primary symptom of endometrial cancer, however, it could be a sign of more serious health conditions as well, so it is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced oncologist. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition.
At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult an oncologist, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment with Dr. Pooja Babbar at the CK Birla Hospital. (Booking Link).
Is Endometrial Cancer Curable?
The majority of endometrial cancer cases are caught early and treated surgically. If you have symptoms that could be a sign of endometrial cancer or another gynaecological condition, make an appointment with your doctor.
What is the Most Common Symptom of Endometrial Cancer?
The most common symptom of endometrial cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, ranging from a blood-streaked and watery flow to a flow that contains more blood. Vaginal bleeding before, during, or after menopause is frequently a warning indication.
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