Endometrial cancer, one of the most common gynecologic cancers, starts in the lining of the uterus. When found early, endometrial cancer can usually be cured. Most endometrial cancer occurs after menopause, so regular pelvic exams and Pap tests should not be discontinued after periods stop.
Should endometrial cancer be diagnosed, the multidisciplinary Gynecologic Oncology team at Beaumont offers surgery, including minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures, radiation and hormone therapy, as individually appropriate. Women can also rely on the support of our compassionate and highly skilled staff to meet emotional and medical needs.
For more information about Beaumont's gynecology oncology program, or a referral to an oncologist near you, call our Physician Referral Service at 800-633-7377.
The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. Cancer of the endometrium, the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs, is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the endometrium. Endometrioid cancer is a specific type of endometrial cancer.
Cancer of the endometrium is different from cancer of the muscle of the uterus, which is called sarcoma of the uterus. About 95 percent of all endometrial cancers are adenocarcinomas. Endometrial cancer is highly curable when found early. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 40,100 cases of cancer of the uterine body will be diagnosed in the US during 2008.
The following have been suggested as risk factors for endometrial cancer:
The following are the most common symptoms of endometrial cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Cancer of the endometrium often does not occur before menopause. It usually occurs around the time menopause begins. The occasional reappearance of bleeding should not be considered simply part of menopause.
The symptoms of endometrial cancer may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
The exact cause of endometrial cancer is not known. However, physicians believe that avoiding the known risk factors, when possible, using oral contraceptives, controlling obesity, and controlling diabetes are the best ways to lower the risk of developing endometrial cancer.
Diagnosis includes a medical history and physical examination, including a pelvic examination to feel the vagina, rectum, and lower abdomen for masses or growths. A Pap test may be requested as part of the pelvic examination. The diagnosis of cancer is confirmed only by a biopsy. Several tests may be used to diagnose endometrial cancer, including:
Specific treatment for endometrial cancer will be determined by your physician based on:
The choice of treatment depends on the stage of cancer - whether it is confined in the endometrium, or has spread to other parts of the uterus or other parts of the body. Generally, treatment for patients with cancer of the endometrium includes one or more of the following:
Before you begin hormone therapy, your physician may recommend a hormone receptor test. This lab test is performed on the uterine tissue to determine if estrogen and progesterone receptors are present. A hormone receptor test can help to predict whether cancer cells are sensitive to hormones.
This test measures the amount of certain proteins (called hormone receptors) in cancer tissue. Hormones (such as estrogen and progesterone that occur naturally in the body) can attach to these proteins. If the test is positive, it is indicating that the hormone is probably helping the cancer cells to grow. In this case, hormone therapy may be given to help keep the hormone away from the cancer cells. If the test is negative, the hormone does not affect the growth of the cancer cells and other effective cancer treatments may be given. Always discuss the results of the hormone receptor test with your physician.
Progesterone (pill) may be given as hormone therapy for endometrial cancer. Tamoxifen may also be used to treat advanced endometrial cancer.
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