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ENDOMETRIAL CANCER: UNDERSTANDING THE DISEASE

Dr. Nagendra Parvataneni, Friday, November 8, 2019

WHAT IS ENDOMETRIAL CANCER?

Endometrial cancer is cancer of the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus. It is the most common type of cancer that affects the female reproductive organs. Endometrial cancer occurs when the cells of the endometrium start to grow too rapidly. The lining of the uterus may thicken in certain places. These areas of thickness may form a mass of tissue called a tumour.


WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR ENDOMETRIAL CANCER?

Some of the risk factors for endometrial cancer include the following:

  • Age: Most cases of endometrial cancer are diagnosed in women who are past menopause and are in their mid-60s.
  • Levels of Hormones: When oestrogen is present without enough progesterone, it can cause the endometrium to become too thick. This condition can occur in women with irregular menstrual periods, during perimenopause and menopause, and with certain medical disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It also can occur in women who use oestrogen-only therapy to treat menopause symptoms.
  • Being Overweight: Having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater is a major risk factor for endometrial cancer.
  • Genetics—Lynch syndrome is an inherited condition that increases the risk endometrial cancer. It is caused by a change or mutation in a gene that is passed down in families.


WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ENDOMETRIAL CANCER?

The most common symptom of endometrial cancer is abnormal uterine bleeding. For women who are premenopausal, this includes irregular menstrual bleeding, spotting, and bleeding between menstrual periods. For women who are postmenopausal, any bleeding is abnormal. Symptoms of advanced endometrial cancer include abdominal or pelvic pain, bloating, feeling full quickly when eating, and changes in bowel or bladder habits.


HOW IS ENDOMETRIAL CANCER DIAGNOSED?

If the patient is postmenopausal, any abnormal bleeding needs to be checked. She may first have a transvaginal ultrasound exam, where the thickness of the endometrium and the size of the uterus are measured. A thickened endometrium (more than 4 mm) means that more testing is needed.

The standard way that endometrial cancer is diagnosed is with an endometrial biopsy, where a sample of the endometrium is removed and examined. Another way the endometrium can be sampled is with dilation and curettage (D&C). A lighted instrument with a camera called a hysteroscope may be used to help guide this procedure.

If the patient is premenopausal, the gynaecologist will consider the signs and symptoms, age, and other medical factors to decide whether a biopsy is needed. An ultrasound exam is not helpful if the patient is premenopausal in diagnosing endometrial cancer.


HOW IS ENDOMETRIAL CANCER TREATED?

Endometrial cancer usually is treated with surgery. During surgery, the cervix and uterus are removed (total hysterectomy), as well as both ovaries and fallopian tubes (salpingo- oophorectomy). Lymph nodes and other tissue may be removed and tested to find out if they contain cancer.

After surgery, the stage of disease is determined. Staging helps your doctor decide if additional treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, is needed. Stages of cancer range from I to IV. Stage IV is the most advanced. The stage of cancer affects the treatment and outcome.

Treatment with progestin is an option for women who want to have more children or for women who cannot have surgery because of other medical reasons. This option usually is only recommended for women who:

  • Have slower-growing cancer that has not reached the muscle layer of the uterus
  • Do not have cancer outside of the uterus
  • Are in general good health and are able to take progestin
  • Understand that information about future outcomes is limited


WHY KIMS?

Endometrial cancer patients at KIMS receive endometrial cancer treatment in Hyderabad from specialists who are focused exclusively on the treatment of cancers of the female reproductive system. Our women oncology specialist hospitals in Hyderabad have a multidisciplinary team that includes some of the India’s leading gynaecologists, surgeons and radiologists. We work to establish a foundation of support you can depend on, whether you are newly diagnosed, considering treatment options or seeking a second opinion. To offer better services, we have opened women oncology treatment centres in Kondapur too.

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