Uterine cancer begins in the uterus, the pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvis where the baby grows when a woman is pregnant.
Uterine (endometrial) cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system. It tends to develop after menopause, when a woman is between the ages of 50 and 60.
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Can you answer yes to any of these questions:
- Are you between the ages of 50 and 60?
- Are you overweight?
- Did you begin menstruating before the age of 12?
- Did you enter menopause relatively late, after age 52?
- Have you never given birth?
- Do you have a history of infertility (an inability to become pregnant)?
- Do you have an ovarian disease, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, that could cause you to have higher than normal levels of the hormone estrogen and lower than normal levels of the hormone progesterone?
- Do you have elevated blood sugar (diabetes)?
- Do you have high blood pressure (hypertension)?
- Do you have a family history of endometrial cancer or colon cancer?
- Have you or your family members been diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome?
- Have you taken the drug tamoxifen after menopause? (The increased risk depends in part on the dose taken and the length of time it is used. Women who take tamoxifen should discuss the risks and benefits of this drug with their doctors.)
- Have you been diagnosed with endometrial hyperplasia?
- Have you taken certain types of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?
If I have some of these risk factors will I get uterine cancer?
Remember, having one or more of these risk factors does not mean you willl get uterine cancer. However, if you have one or more risk factors, you should schedule regular visits with your doctor and communicate any symptoms you might be experiencing.
In 2016 the American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 60,050 new cases of uterine cancer and 10,470 women will lose their fight against the disease.
More than 90 percent of women with uterine (endometrial) cancer experience abnormal vaginal bleeding. In some cases, the bleeding may appear as vaginal discharge that is watery, pink or white instead of red. Women in their late 30s and early 40s may also experience heavy bleeding between periods. If you have gone through menopause, be sure to discuss any vaginal bleeding with your doctor; one in ten postmenopausal women with this sign are found to have uterine cancer.
If you do have symptoms, they may include:
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain when urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pelvic pain (usually a symptom of later stages of disease)
- Unexplained weight loss (usually a symptom of later stages of disease)
Since other conditions can cause these symptoms as well, it is important to see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you are diabetic, maintain good disease control with regular monitoring of blood glucose levels.
- Consider the risk of uterine cancer before starting hormone replacement therapy (HRT), especially estrogen replacement therapy alone.
Bio-identical hormone replacement is not considered safer. The FDA is not aware of any credible scientific evidence to support claims made regarding the safety and effectiveness of compounded BHRT drugs.