Endometrial cancer causes & Symptoms | Dr Rajeshwari Reddy

The uterus is a hollow, muscular organ in a woman’s pelvis. The lining of the uterus is known as the endometrium. The size of the uterus is around 3 inches in length which continue with the cervix which is the narrow end of the uterus. It leads to the vagina. Endometrial cancer is a condition in which malignant (cancerous cells) form in the tissues of the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus).

Endometrial cancer symptoms

Signs and symptoms of endometrial cancer include pain in the pelvis, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and postmenopausal bleeding. In addition, post-coital bleeding, pain during sexual intercourse, painful or difficult urination, and discharge not related to periods are the other symptoms associated with endometrial cancer.

Endometrial cancer causes

The exact cause of most types of endometrial cancers is not known. However, certain risk factors may increase the risk of endometrial cancer in women. Hormonal imbalances, obesity, associated diabetes, hypertension, personal or family history of breast cancer, early menarche, and late menopause are the prominent risk factors.

Endometrial cancer diagnosis

A gynaecologist may ask a few questions to the patient by taking into account her health history and past conditions. She performs a physical examination to check for the signs. Gynaecologists also makes a note of the patient’s habits, past illnesses and medical history.

Endometrial cancer grows and develops inside the uterus – therefore, the PAP test doesn’t reveal it. Instead, a gynaecologist removes a sample of endometrial tissue and checks it under a microscope.

Transvaginal ultrasound exam

In this procedure, doctors use a probe (ultrasound transducer) and insert it into the vagina. To identify tumours, endometrial thickness, adnexal mass gynaecologist looks at sonograms for any abnormality.

Endometrial biopsy is a procedure to remove tissue samples from the lining of the uterus. An experienced gynaecologist inserts a pipelle into the uterus and removes the tissue sample – which is then sent to the laboratory for analysis.

Hysteroscopy: A thin tube-like instrument with a light and camera – to have a better view of the inside of the uterus – is inserted through the vagina and then into the uterus. This procedure is known as hysteroscopy. During this procedure, a gynaecologist uses a curette to remove a tissue sample for biopsy.

Endometrial cancer staging

Stage I: Cancer remains confined to the uterus only. This stage is further divided into two stages: Stage IA and Stage IB based on how far cancer has spread.

Stage IA: Cancer is in the endometrium only.

Stage IB: Cancer has spread into the myometrium.

Stage II: Cancer has spread into the cervix (connective tissues), but not outside the uterus.

Stage III: Cancer has spread beyond the uterus and cervix (within the pelvis), but not beyond the pelvis.

Stage IV: Cancer has spread beyond the pelvis into the bladder and bowel wall.

Endometrial cancer risk factors

The following factors increase the risk of endometrial cancer in women. However, the presence of risk factors doesn’t mean that a woman will get cancer. Even the absence of risk factors doesn’t mean that a woman will not get cancer.

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Age – getting older increases the risk
  • Taking HRT (Hormone replacement therapy) after menopause
  • Taking certain drugs to treat breast cancer(tamoxifen)
  • Beginning menarche at an early age
  • Reaching menopause at a later age
  • Never giving birth
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Having Lynch syndrome (a genetic disorder)
  • A strong family history of endometrial cancer
  • Previous history of endometrial hyperplasia

Endometrial cancer treatment

Endometrial cancer is often diagnosed early for a potential cure. A wide range of diagnostic tests is available for accurate diagnosis and staging. The following types of treatment options are used – surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy. Surgery is the most common treatment for endometrial cancer – hysterectomy (vaginal hysterectomy) or total laparoscopic hysterectomy. Some patients may be given radiation therapy or hormonal therapy to kill leftover cancer cells.