Endometrial (uterine) cancer is a relatively common malignant disease. Despite its relatively good prognosis, may women die annually, and therefore is it good to know its early symptoms.
Endometrial tumors occur from the uterine mucosa (endometrium) and it has may more or less known risk factors. The first risk factor is clearly the age as older women after the menopause are much more threatened than younger women. Women using hormonal estrogen therapy to delay the onset of menopause have also a higher risk of the disease. The endometrial cancer occurs more frequently in childless women as the pregnancy is associated with elevated level of hormone progesterone, which has a protective effect against this tumor. Obese women experience the endometrial cancer more commonly due to excessive amount of estrogen produced by the adipose tissue.
In addition, higher risk is also in women who had their menarche (first menstruation) earlier than others, and who experienced later menopause. You may notice that the risk factors for endometrial cancer are very similar to the breast cancer.
The first stage of the disease may be asymptomatic; but quite soon, the tumor begins to manifest with gynecological bleeding. This is very fortunate as the woman usually visits a gynecologist and the tumor is diagnosed in its early stage. Other symptoms may occur when the tumor spreads to other organs including loss of appetite, weight loss, pain, etc.
Woman with gynecological bleeding, especially after menopause, should be examined by a gynecologist including abdominal ultrasound. In addition, it is possible to perform curettage (taking a sample of endometrium by a special device), or hysteroscopy. Hysteroscopy is an endoscopic examination when a camera-assisted flexible tube-like device is inserted through the vagina into the womb. Hysteroscopy not only enables the doctor to see the endometrium by the camera, but it also allows taking tissue samples for histological examination.
Hormonal contraception has protective effect against the endometrial tumors, because modern forms include both the estrogens and progesterones that protect the user against uterine cancer and ovarian cancer. Regular gynecological examinations are also a way of prevention.
The primary therapeutic method is surgical. The actual extent of the surgery depends on the decision of gynecologists and the extent of the disease. The doctors usually remove the uterus (hysterectomy) with both fallopian tubes. In advanced stages of the disease, the oncologists cure the patients with chemotherapy and in some cases with hormonal therapy. The hormonal therapy involves administration of high concentrations of progesterone, which slows down the multiplication of cancer cells.