Cancer occurs when the cells in your body go through certain changes which can cause them to grow out of control. Cancer cells are not the same as the normal cells in your body; they have the ability to grow and invade the surrounding tissues, as well as to spread throughout your body. Endometrial carcinoma is a kind of cancer that begins in your uterus-carcinoma is a type of cancer that begins in tissues which form linings throughout your body. The endometrium is the lining of the inside of your uterus, therefore endometrial carcinoma forms from the inner lining of the uterus. There are approximately 34,000 cases of endometrial cancer diagnoses in the United States each year, but the good news is that since this cancer is generally diagnosed in the early stages, the cure rate is high, with a five-year survival rate of 85%.
While the cause of endometrial carcinoma is not known, there are certain risk factors involved which include begin obese (more than 50 pounds over ideal body weight) which increases your risk by ten times, being postmenopausal, going through menopause after age 52, having no children, having hypertension or diabetes, having polycystic ovaries, taking estrogen replacement therapy without supplemental progesterone, or a history of pelvic radiation therapy. The use of birth control pill, or postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy with estrogen and progesterone decrease your risk of developing endometrial cancer by half.
Symptoms of Endometrial Carcinoma
In a full 90% of the cases of endometrial carcinoma there is abnormal uterine bleeding which can range from minor staining to full-blown hemorrhage. There can also be pelvic pain, pain in your back or legs, bladder or rectal symptoms or weight loss and a feeling of weakness. Five percent of all women with endometrial carcinoma will have no symptoms at all.
The definitive diagnosis will be made through an endometrial biopsy, which includes a small scraping of the uterus. This can usually be performed in your doctor’s office, although a dilation and curettage may be required if there was an insufficient specimen on an office biopsy or if you are unable to have the endometrial biopsy done in the doctor’s office due to a small cervical opening or significant discomfort.
Treatments for Endometrial Carcinoma
Your doctor will likely recommend surgery in the form of a midline abdominal incision, or possibly the less-invasive laparoscopic surgery, including a hysterectomy, removal of both tubes and ovaries, and, in non-obese women, removal of the pelvic and para-aortic lymph nodes, which will allow a quicker hospital release and speedier recovery. You may have two to six weeks of radiation treatment to your pelvic region and upper vagina following your surgery, or chemotherapy treatment, usually reserved for later stages of endometrial carcinoma or recurrent cancer. The five-year survival rate following surgery is 95%–a particularly high, and happy-statistic!
Your doctor will likely recommend a general physical and pelvic examination including a Pap smear every three months for the first two years, then every six months for an additional three years. Nearly 70% of recurrences take place within three years of initial therapy, so your follow-up visits are critical.