What is endometrial cancer? (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
The uterus is a hollow organ, about the size and shape of a medium-sized pear. The uterus is where a fetus grows and develops when a woman is pregnant. Endometrial cancer is a cancer that starts in the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus.
The body of the uterus has 2 layers. The inner layer or lining is called the endometrium. The outer layer of muscle is known as the myometrium. All cancers of the uterus start in the endometrium and are called endometrial carcinomas. The most common type of endometrial cancer is called endometrioid adenocarcinoma.
Incidence of Endometrial Cancer
According to Wikipedia, Endometrial cancers are the most common gynecologic cancers in the United States, with over 35,000 women diagnosed each year. The incidence is on a slow rise, secondary to the obesity epidemic.
The American Cancer Society's most recent estimates for uterus cancer (both endometrial cancer and uterine sarcomas), in the United States, are for 2012: About 47,130 new cases of cancer of the body of the uterus About 8,010 deaths from cancers of the uterine body. These numbers include both endometrial cancers and uterine sarcomas.
Grade of Carcinomas
The grade of an endometrial cancer is based on how much the cancer forms glands that look similar to the glands found in normal, healthy endometrium. In lower-grade cancers, more of the cancerous tissue forms glands. In higher-grade cancers, more of the cancer cells are arranged in a haphazard or disorganized way and do not form glands.
Grade 1 tumors have 95% or more of the cancerous tissue forming glands.
Grade 2 tumors have between 50% and 94% of the cancerous tissue forming glands.
Grade 3 tumors have less than half of the cancerous tissue forming glands. Grade 3 cancers are called "high-grade." They tend to be aggressive and have a poorer outlook than lower grade cancers.
Obesity, the larger the woman, the larger the risk
Age over 35
High levels of estrogen
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Nulliparity (never having carried a pregnancy)
Early menarche (onset of menstruation)
Endometrial polyps or other benign growths of the uterine lining
High intake of animal fat
Lack of exercise
Heavy daily alcohol consumption
Signs and symptoms
Vaginal bleeding and /or spotting in postmenopausal women.
Abnormal uterine bleeding, abnormal menstrual periods.
Bleeding between normal periods in premenopausal women in women older than 40: extremely long, heavy, or frequent episodes of bleeding.
Anemia, caused by chronic loss of blood. This may occur if the woman has ignored symptoms of prolonged or frequent abnormal menstrual bleeding.
Lower abdominal pain or pelvic cramping.
Thin white or clear vaginal discharge in postmenopausal women.
Watching for any signs and symptoms of this cancer and telling your doctor about them right away allows the cancer to be found at an early stage. Finding it early improves the chances that it will be treated with success. But sometimes this cancer can reach an advanced stage before it causes any symptoms.
There are 4 basic types of treatment for women with endometrial cancer. Surgery is the main treatment for most women with endometrial cancer. But sometimes one or more of these treatments is combined.
Chemotherapy ( chemo)
Prevention and Why India Should Be Concerned
Women who are overweight or obese have up to 3½ times the risk of getting endometrial cancer as compared to women with a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is one way to lower the risk of this cancer.
Regular physical activity is another way to help lower endometrial cancer risk.
Estrogen to treat the symptoms of menopause comes in many different forms like pills, skin patches, and creams. If you are thinking about using estrogen to ease symptoms of menopause, ask your doctor about how it will affect your risk of endometrial cancer.
Fast following breast cancer, uterine cancers are making their presence felt in India too. The risk factors such as obesity, a growing cause for alarm in India, poor diet and low physical activity are putting more women in harms way.
As we learnt from India's numbers of breast and cervical cancers and their prevalence and immitated trends from the West, uterine cancers like the endometrial cancer are also an area we must quickly learn about and duly avoid. Early detections are imperative, therefore routine check-ups are important.
Source: Times of India