Uterine Cancer: The Facts
Cancer of the womb is a very common female cancer affecting the reproductive organs yet many women are oblivious to the danger and diagnosis is often too late for a cure to be possible.
Womb cancer is also known as uterine or endometrial cancer and accounts for approximately 3% of all female cancers. Most cases are diagnosed in women aged between 40 and 74 and can occur pre or post menopause.
Symptoms of womb cancer
Unusual bleeding from the vagina either before or after the menopause can be a sign of womb cancer. You should consult your doctor if you experience abnormal bleeding in between your regular periods or if you have already been through menopause. Other signs to look out for include stomach pain or pain during sex. Once the cancer becomes more advanced you might experience pain in your back, pelvic area or legs, a loss of appetite, tiredness and nausea.
Types of womb cancer
Most womb cancers originate in the cells that comprise the uterine lining or endometrium. Sometimes the cancer can start in the soft tissue and muscles that surround the womb, although this is rare. This is called ‘uterine sarcoma’ and is treated differently from uterine cancer.
What causes womb cancer?
It’s not completely understood what causes womb cancer but there are things that can make you more likely to develop the disease. Excessive amounts of oestrogen in your body can increase your risk of cancer as can a general hormone imbalance. Hormone imbalances can be caused by a number of factors including diabetes, obesity and HRT (hormone replacement therapy). Womb cancer has also been linked to long-term use of the breast cancer drug, tamoxifen.
In a very small number of cases a faulty gene may be inherited which can trigger the disease.
Women who take the combined oral contraceptive pill are at a lower risk of developing uterine cancer than those who don’t.
How is womb cancer treated?
The usual treatment for womb cancer is to remove the uterus completely via a hysterectomy procedure. This drastic action can cure womb cancer if it is identified and caught early enough. Obviously this means that you won’t be able to get pregnant. As a safety measure, hysterectomy usually also includes the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Following surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatments are also usually used. If the cancer is advanced, a cure may not be possible but treatment can still prolong the life of the person and relieve ther symptoms.
Uterine cancer can be a devastating and life-changing condition but it can be cured if caught early enough. If you have any concerns or are experiencing unusual symptoms, always go to your doctor for advice. Abnormal bleeding is probably not caused by uterine cancer but it’s just not worth taking the chance.
Image source: signsofuterinecancer.org
About Alison Page
Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at http://www.theladywriter.co.uk