Uterine cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the uterus, which is the organ in women where a baby grows. The most common type of uterine cancer is endometrial cancer, which starts in the lining of the uterus (the endometrium).
Uterine cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system in developed countries. It is most common in women over the age of 50, but it can occur at any age.
The exact cause of uterine cancer is not known, but there are a number of factors that can increase the risk, including:
- Age: The risk of uterine cancer increases with age.
- Obesity: Obesity is a major risk factor for uterine cancer.
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus.
- Unopposed estrogen: Estrogen is a hormone that can promote the growth of cells in the uterus. Unopposed estrogen means that the body is not producing enough progesterone, which balances the effects of estrogen.
- Family history: Women with a family history of uterine cancer are at increased risk.
- Certain genetic mutations: Certain genetic mutations, such as Lynch syndrome, can increase the risk of uterine cancer.
The symptoms of uterine cancer can vary depending on the stage of the cancer. Some common symptoms include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding: This can include bleeding between periods, after menopause, or heavier than usual periods.
- Vaginal discharge: This can be watery, bloody, or foul-smelling.
- Pain in the pelvis or lower back: This pain may be worse during or after sex.
- Pressure in the pelvis: This pressure may be worse when you stand or walk.
- Weight loss: Unexplained weight loss can be a sign of cancer.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for improving the chances of survival.
The treatment for uterine cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and the patient’s overall health. Treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy.
The outlook for women with uterine cancer is good, especially if the cancer is diagnosed early. The 5-year survival rate for women with early-stage uterine cancer is over 90%.
There are a number of things that women can do to reduce their risk of uterine cancer, including:
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Getting regular exercise.
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Avoiding smoking.
- Getting regular Pap smears and pelvic exams.
If you are concerned about uterine cancer, talk to your doctor. They can help you assess your risk and discuss ways to reduce it.