Endometrial cancer: Find out if you are at risk.

Endometrial cancer is on the rise. The number of new cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. has risen from 40,000 in 2005 to over 60,000 in 2017. Dr. Gregory Sutton from the Covenant Cancer Care Center appeared on WNEM-TV’s Medical Moment to answer questions and educate viewers about this increasingly common form of cancer in women.

What is endometrial cancer?

Endometrial cancer is cancer of the wall of the uterus (the endometrium). It is the most common reproductive cancer found in women in the U.S. The average age for a patient to be diagnosed is 60; women younger than 45 are at lower risk for the disease.

What are the risk factors for endometrial cancer?

Women who experience any of these health conditions are at greater risk for endometrial cancer:

  • Excess weight – Dr. Sutton says this is “probably the most common factor” among women diagnosed with the disease. Women who are overweight “have anywhere between a two- to six-fold increase in their risk of cancer of the uterus,” he explains.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – A hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts.
  • Infertility
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Diabetes

Endometrial cancer is most common in postmenopausal women, but it can occur before menopause.

What are the symptoms of endometrial cancer?

There is no screening test for this cancer, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms. The most common symptom is abnormal bleeding or discharge. In postmenopausal women, this means any bleeding at all; in women still having periods, this would mean unusually heavy bleeding, or bleeding at a time of the month when their period would not usually occur.

Dr. Sutton cautions that women with other risk factors, such as excess weight, may not experience bleeding as a symptom. “Women who . . . have polycystic ovary disease, or who have chronic anovulation [their ovaries do not release an egg during their menstrual cycles] can also develop endometrial cancer, or precursors to the cancer, without having bleeding.”

Other symptoms include pain in the pelvic area and unexplained weight loss.

If you have any of these symptoms, see your gynecologist. He/she will evaluate your condition through a pelvic examination, vaginal ultrasound and endometrial biopsy.

How is endometrial cancer treated?

“The standard treatment for endometrial cancer is a hysterectomy,” says Dr. Sutton, “But you can do more conservative therapy for younger women who want to preserve fertility.” For more advanced forms of uterine cancer, radiation and chemotherapy are also used.

In an article written by Dr. Sutton, he points out that robotic surgery has revolutionized the surgical approach to this form of cancer, especially for overweight women, who are poor candidates for laparoscopic or vaginal surgery. With robotic gynecologic surgery, many women can go home from the hospital the day of their surgery.

As with most cancers, early detection leads to the most effective treatment, so don’t ignore symptoms of endometrial cancer, especially if you have one or more of the risk factors.

To find a Covenant doctor, go to https://www.covenanthealthcare.com/ch/find-a-physician.

Posted Date: 11/27/2018

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