What is endometrial cancer?

Endometrical cancer is a disease that involves the formation of cancer cells in the tissue of the endometrium, which is the inner lining of the uterus.

 

What are the symptoms of endometrial cancer?

Several symptoms indicate that the person could suffer from this type of cancer. The main ones are the following:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding or spotting, unrelated to menstruation: 90% of patients have this symptom. This bleeding can also be due to other conditions, but it is important that your gynaecologist studies the case and performs the necessary diagnostic tests.
  • Pain in the pelvis or during sexual relations
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause

 

Causes and risk factors of endometrial cancer

The exact causes of this type of cancer are unknown, although it has been detected that the increase of the levels of estrogen in the organism can be an influential factor. Risk factors include:

  • Suffer from obesity
  • Having polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Beginning of menopause at an advanced age
  • Never giving birth
  • Present menstruation at a young age
  • Family history of endometrial cancer
  • Tamoxifen therapy: Tamoxifen (Nolvadex, Tamofen) is a hormonal therapy drug used to treat certain cancers, most commonly breast cancer

 

How is endometrial cancer diagnosed?

It is important to perform regular health check-ups and ask the patient about their personal and family history, as well as their health habits.

There are several diagnostic tests to detect it:

  • Ultrasound: the ultrasound can be abdominal or transvaginal, and has the function of the doctor being able to examine the uterus to detect possible alterations.
  • Endometrial biopsy: it consists in taking a tissue sample from the endometrium. A thin, flexible tube is inserted through the cervix to remove the sample and sent to the pathologist so that it can detect if there are cancer cells.
  • Hysteroscopy: it consists of the insertion of a hysteroscope (small optic) into the uterus to see if there are abnormal areas and make a guided biopsy of the endometrial tissue. This test can be performed in the query or in the operating room with the patient partially anesthetized.

 

What are the treatment options in endometrial cancer?

Below, are the most common treatment options for patients with this type of cancer.

  • Surgery: it consists of a total hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries, occasionally combined also with a removal of the lymph nodes.

If the cancer has spread through the abdomen, debulking surgery and HIPEC can be performed. Learn more about the HIPEC in this article.

  • Radiation therapy: radiation is used to destroy cancer cells. It can be internal or external, and its used depending on the cancer stage of the patient.
  • Chemotherapy: is a treatment of cancer for which drugs are used to stop the growth of cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy: It is a treatment that eliminates or blocks the action of hormones interrupting the growth of cancer cells.

 

Prognosis of endometrial cancer

The majority of diagnosed patients are between 55 and 59 years old, being the pathology exceptional in women under 40 years. The prognosis depends on the stage in which the disease is diagnosed, but this type of cancer is usually curable since in most cases it is diagnosed early.

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