Endometrial Cancer is cancer of the lining of the uterus, according to the National Cancer Institute. It is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer in the United States. It is the fourth most common cancer amongst women. The most common sign of this cancer is unusual bleeding from the vagina especially after menopause. Therefore, any woman with such symptoms should be carefully assessed.
Certain aspects put women at risk for this type of cancer:
- It is most common in women over 50 years of age.
- Women who have high levels of estrogen in their bodies (some things that increase your risk for higher estrogen is being extremely overweight, and having high blood pressure or diabetes).
- Using estrogen replacement therapy without taking progestin. Progestin seems to protect the lining of the uterus from the estrogen.
- Having a first period before age 12 or going through menopause after age 50.
The evaluation of women with abnormal vaginal bleeding and suspected endometrial cancer, should have a focused physical exam with a Body Mass Index calculation and a pelvic exam that includes a visual inspection to evaluate the source of the bleeding. Basic lab studies should be performed to include a pregnancy test, complete blood count, Pap Smear, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. As well as thyroid check, liver check and other blood tests.
Other diagnostic studies can also be performed to include an endometrial biopsy, which involves inserting a narrow tube into the uterus and removing a small amount of tissue that is tested in a lab for re-cancerous cells. Imaging tests may also be performed such as endovaginal and transabdominal ultrasonography. MRI and CT scans may also be performed.
Treatment of endometrial hyperplasia depends on the presence of atypical cells and the patient’s desire for future fertility. Treatment usually involves removing the uterus, the fallopian tubes and the ovaries. Women may also need to take progestin to balance out high levels of estrogen. Sometimes radiation therapy or chemotherapy is also needed. Treatment can be very effective if the cancer is found early.
Be sure to have your annual Women’s Wellness exam to check for any abnormalities. Call our office today, 757-488-3333, to schedule an appointment.
~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD