In the United States, endometrial cancer is the most common reproductive cancer among women. According to the American Cancer Society, over 52,000 new cases of uterine body cancers will be diagnosed in 2014. Of these cases, approximately 8,600 women will die from cancers related to the uterine body.[i]
Endometrial cancer is rare in women under the age of 45, but approximately 75 percent of all cases are diagnosed in women over the age of 55. The cancer is more common in white women than black women, but black women are more likely to die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
Risk Factors of Endometrial Cancer
There are a variety of risk factors for Type I endometrial carcinoma, which impacts the lining of the uterus or endometrium. Risk factors include being overweight, diabetes, high blood pressures, estrogen replacement therapy, lack of periods, and late menopause. Genetics may also impact the rate at which women develop endometrial cancer. If a close relative, such as your mother or maternal grandmother, develops endometrial cancer, you may be at a higher risk for developing the disease.
Type II endometrial cancers usually impact older women who have not received estrogen replacement therapy. The risk for developing tumors is not clearly defined and Type II endometrial cancer is less common than Type I. Studies show that most Type II cases occur in older women of normal weight, and those who are African American and have been pregnant on multiple occasions.
Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer
The most common symptom of endometrial cancer is abnormal and excessive vaginal bleeding. The bleeding usually occurs between periods or following menopause. Heavy bleeding is normally accompanied by pain in the pelvic area. Since there is other possible causes of bleeding, it is important to visit your medical provider immediately if you suffer from abnormal vaginal discharge.
Bleeding is often the most common early detector of endometrial cancer. If women are genetically predisposed to endometrial cancer, it is critical to seek medical advice if you notice excessive or out of the ordinary bleeding.
Treatment Options for Endometrial Cancer
There are a variety of ways endometrial cancer may be treated. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy are all options. Treatment depends on the type of cancer cell and at which stage the patient is at. A Stage I treatment plan for endometrial cancer is different than a Stage 4 plan.
Surgery is often conducted to determine the stage of the cancer. Patients who are in favorable health will undergo exploratory surgery to determine how advanced the cancer is. Your doctor will be able to determine the best way to treat the cancer based on the findings.
Minimally invasive surgeries, such as laparoscopy, are common for treating the early stages of endometrial cancer. In addition to surgery, radiation therapy may be used to improve the outcome. Other forms of therapy include chemotherapy and hormone therapy. The earlier the cancer is detected the better the outcome. Nearly 75% of all women diagnosed with early-stage endometrial cancer will survive the disease.[ii]