Ovarian Cyst Symptoms
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Uterine Cancer Symptoms

What is uterine cancer?

Uterine cancer is the presence of malignant (cancerous) growth in the lining of the uterus (endometrium). Uterine Cancer is commonly called endometrial cancer. Technically speaking though, uterine cancer can mean any of a number of different cancers of the uterus including:

  • uterine sarcomas
  • cervical cancer
  • gestational trophoblastic disease
  • endometrial cancer
As Uterince cancer develops it can spread out of the uterus and into other parts of the body including the bladder, rectum, and lungs. It is unknown yet what exactly causes uterine cancer but see risk factors below.

Who is affected by uterine cancer?

As the most common gynecological disease in women, uterine cancer affects about 35,000 women each year. About 1 in 7 cases of uterine cancer end up being fatal. While women over the age of 50 are most affected, uterine cancer can develop at any age. Women may get uterine cancer before menopause but typically the disease begins after menopause.

Causes and Risk Factors

It is unknown yet what exactly causes normal healthy cells of a women's uterus to become cancerous. There are however several known conditions that increase the chances of this happening. An excessive amount of estrogen that is unbalanced by progesterone is a primary risk factor. Elevated estrogen levels are common in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), diabetes, and obesity.

PCOS is a disease characterized by a hormonal imbalance and abnormal ovulation (see PCOS symptoms). Obesity may increase the risk of developing uterine cancer by 200-400%. Long term use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is another source of excess estrogen when not balanced with progesterone. Even a decade or longer after ending estrogen treatments a woman may be at higher risk for uterine cancer. The use of breast cancer drugs including Tamoxifen has also been found to increase a woman's risk.

White skinned, caucasian women have a higher incidence of uterine cancer than those of other ethnicities. Risk factors are also higher in women who have have never been pregnant, or have had more years of menstruation (started early or ended late in life) and women with a thickened endometrium.

What are the symptoms of uterine cancer?

Uterine cancer symptoms can resemble other conditions including ovarian cyst symptoms, endometriosis symptoms, and PCOS symptoms. Other forms of gynecological cancer that may have similar symptoms to uterine cancer are cervical cancer and ovarian cancer. See also Symptoms of Cervical Cancer and Ovarian Cancer symptoms on this website.

Symptoms of uterince cancer vary depending on how far it has progressed. Early symptoms are often different than those in later stages of the disease. Most women with uterine cancer experience abnormal bleeding of the vagina after menopause. This bleeding is often accompanied by a discharge of fluid that is clear, white or mixed with blood. Heavy periods, irregularly occuring periods, and bleeding between periods are possible symptoms of uterine cancer in women before menopause.

Some women may have pelvic pain. Pain is often felt in the lower abdomen or pelvic area, which is below the stomach and down to the hips. Sexual intercourse that is painful is also believed to be one of the signs of uterine cancer.

Other less common uterine cancer symptoms include weight loss and signs of anemia, which is the result of excessive loss of blood. Tired, weak muscles and feeling like fainting are typical signs of anemia that may indicate uterine cancer is present.

Uterine cancer symptoms

  • post-menopausal bleeding and or discharge
  • pelvic pain
  • unusual or unexpected menstrual bleeding
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • weight loss and symptoms of anemia

Uterine cancer survival rate

Women with uterine cancer (endometrial cancer) typically have an 80%-85% chance of surving 5 years after being diagnosed. Because this rate is based upon the average of a large population of women, individual patients will have different expected outcomes. Uterine cancer survival rates are higher for women of Caucasian origin versus African American women.

The primary factor in determining the uterine cancer survival rate for a women is how far the disease has advanced. In the early stage of the disease in which the cancer is located in just the endometrium, the 5 year survival rate is about 90-95%. If the cancer has spread to adjacent organs including the lymph nodes the 5 year survival rate drops to about 60-65%. In the advanced stage in which uterine cancer has spread to other parts of the body only about 25% of women are expected to survive beyond 5 years following diagnosis. In patients in which the stage can not be determined the uterine cancer survival rate is about 50-57%.

Uterine cancer prognosis

Uterine cancer prognosis is high when diagnosed at an early stage. Other factors that influence the expected recovery of the patient include how far the disease has progressed (the uterine cancer stage), the kind of uterine cancer (see what is uterine cancer), whether the disease is confined to the endometrium or has spread, and the severity (grade) of the cancer cells as determined by microscope. Additionally, the general health of the patient, her age and likelihood of positive response to treatment contribute to a uterine cancer prognosis.

Uterine cancer treatment

Uterine cancer treatment typically depends on the severity of the disease and how far it has progressed. Surgery is usually performed to remove the uterus and adjacent organs such as the ovaries, and fallopian tubes.Your general level of health is also a factor in determining appropriate uterine cancer treatment options. Regular uterine cancer screenings can help improve the chances of treating uterine cancer symptoms early and effectively.

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