What is Uterine Cancer?
Uterine cancer is cancer of the uterus. There are two types of uterine cancer: endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. Endometrial cancer is the most common type by far. Thankfully, it also responds better to the various treatments for this type of cancer. It is often difficult to pinpoint the exact case of uterine cancer, though there are several risk factors that increase the likelihood that a woman may suffer from this disease. These risk factors include consuming man-made products such as chemical hair straighteners.
Read on to learn more about uterine cancer.
Endometrial uterine cancer
Endometrial uterine cancer is far more common than uterine sarcoma, as roughly 90% of uterine cancers are endometrial. Endometrial cancer is found in the uterus’s lining. Symptoms can include pelvic pain and heavy bleeding. Many women first go to their doctors because they are concerned about these symptoms.
Most doctors will initially perform a physical exam. If they suspect that their patient may be suffering from endometrial uterine cancer, they may do a biopsy and have the tissue tested for signs of cancer cells.
Uterine sarcoma accounts for about 10% of uterine cancers. It is harder to treat than endometrial cancers. The initial symptoms of uterine sarcoma often include heavy bleeding and a mass in the pelvic area.
As with endometrial cancer diagnosis, uterine sarcoma diagnosis often starts with a physical exam. If the physician suspects that the patient may have a uterine sarcoma, they will often prescribe medical imaging. Ultrasound is commonly used to look for this type of tumor.
The treatments for uterine cancer depend on the type of cancer and on how early the physician is able to make the diagnosis. If the cancer is found early, minimally invasive surgery can often remove the cancerous cells. Otherwise, a total hysterectomy is often performed for both uterine sarcomas and endometrial cancer. A combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy is usually prescribed following the surgery.
Over 80% of women who have been diagnosed with uterine cancer survive for five years or more. The chances of survival are significantly higher for women diagnosed with endometrial cancer versus women diagnosed with uterine sarcomas. As with all types of cancer, a patient’s prognosis will be significantly better if their physician catches the cancer early.
Causes and risk factors
While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of uterine cancer, numerous risk factors have been identified. These risk factors can be divided into two categories: the consumption of various man-made products and health conditions.
Several products can increase the risk of uterine cancer. These products include hair straightening chemicals, which are the focus of a uterine cancer class action lawsuit. Estrogen pills can also increase the risk of uterine cancer. Finally, tamoxifen, a breast cancer medication, can increase the risk of uterine cancer.
Various health conditions can increase the incidence of uterine cancer. These health conditions include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- A history of cancer