The uterus is a hollow organ, commonly known as the womb. It is located in the pelvis and supports the foetal development. Uterine cancer is the abnormal growth of cells that comprise the uterine tissue. The build-up of cancer cells can form a mass (malignant tumour).
Causes of Uterine Cancer
- Reproductive history
- Tamoxifen (hormone treatment for breast cancer)
- High insulin levels
- PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
- Endometrial Hyperplasia (thickening of the womb lining)
Symptoms of Uterine Cancer
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Pelvic pain
- Painful urination
- Painful intercourse
- Unusual bleeding between periods
Prevention of Uterine Cancer
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Giving birth to one or more kids is linked to a reduced risk of uterine cancer
- Exercise regularly
- The use of birth control pills is linked to a decreased risk of uterine cancer
- The use of intrauterine devices has shown a reduced risk of uterine cancer
Diagnosis of Uterine Cancer
- Pelvis examination – The doctor inspects the outer genitals and then the vagina to look for abnormalities.
- Ultrasound – The doctor may recommend an ultrasound to look at the thickness and texture of the endometrium. A device called a transducer is inserted into the vagina to create a video image of the uterus. The doctor looks for abnormalities in the uterine lining.
- Hysteroscopy – In this, the doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube through the vagina and cervix that allows the doctor to examine the inside of the uterus.
- Endometrial Biopsy – In this, the doctor takes a sample of cells from inside the uterus and gets it tested in the lab for further analysis.
Treatment of Uterine Cancer
- Surgery – This usually involves the removal of the uterus as well as the fallopian tubes and ovaries. The removal of the uterus leaves you with no chances of getting pregnant in the future and the removal of ovaries makes your menstrual cycle stop.
- Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation like X-rays and protons for killing the cancer cells or halting their growth. It is sometimes also done after the surgery to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.
- Chemotherapy – It uses chemicals and drugs to kill cancerous cells. It can be given orally or intravenously. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel across the body, killing cancer cells. It is usually recommended after the surgery if there is a chance that cancer might return. Sometimes it is used before the surgery to shrink the size of the tumor as well.
- Hormone Therapy – It involves the intake of medication to lower the hormone levels so that the cancer cells that rely on hormones to help them grow might die.
- Immunotherapy – It uses the body’s immune system to fight off cancer cells. Substances made in labs or by the body are used to boost and restore the body’s immune system and defend against cancer cells.
- Target Drug Therapy – This treatment uses drugs that are designed specifically to target the tumor cells. It is usually done in combination with chemotherapy for treating uterine cancers of advanced stages.