The uterus is a hollow organ in females located in the pelvis, commonly called the womb. The uterus functions to support fetal development until birth.
- Uterine cancer occurs by the malignant growth of cells, which occurs by the uncontrollable growth of malignant tumours.
- Non-cancer cells that form a mass are termed benign tumours, benign tumours can transform into malignant tumours.
- Cancer can metastasis (transfer from the origin)to other parts of the body such as tissue, lymph system and blood.
Symptoms of uterine cancer:
Some symptoms of uterine cancer may include:
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting: This includes vaginal bleeding between periods, prolonged periods, or bleeding after intercourse or after menopause.
- Abnormal vaginal discharge: Some women experience a watery or bloody discharge as a symptom of their disease, though this is often a sign of infection or other non-cancerous conditions.
- Pelvic pain or pressure: Pain during intercourse or at other times may be a uterine cancer symptom, or the sign of a less serious condition. Women who experience unexpected vaginal bleeding, spotting or unusual discharge should discuss these symptoms with their doctor.
Diagnosis of uterine cancer:
Certain diagnosis technique may include:
- Biopsy: The removal of tissue from the uterus by inserting a thin, flexible tube and examing it under microscope to look for the cancer cells.
- Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
- Transvaginal ultrasound exam: A procedure used to examine the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and bladder. Any tumour can be identified by looking at the sonogram.
- CT scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. It can be used to see if the tumour has spread to other body parts such as lymph nodes
- Pelvic exam- A pap test may be done by the doctor to check for the size of the tumour and their present condition.
- Chest X-ray- A chest X-ray can be done to check if the metastasis of tumour has reach to chest or not.
Types of uterine cancer:
- Endometrial cancer – It develops in the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. This is the most common type of uterine cancer, accounting for more than 95 percent of cases.
- Uterine sarcoma- It is a more rare type of uterine cancer, and forms in the muscles or other tissues of the uterus.
Causes and risk factors of uterine cancer:
Exact causes of uterine cancer are not known, but there are certain risk factors, which are:
- Age-The risk of developing uterine cancer increases with age. The majority of cases occur in women aged 40 to 74, with only 1% of cases being diagnosed in women under 40.
- Oestrogen and progesterone- The risk of developing uterine cancer is linked to the body's exposure to oestrogen and progesterone. Oestrogen and progesterone are the hormones that regulate the reproductive system in women.
- Obesity- As, oestrogen are produced in the fatty tissues, it is increased in obese people. So, the risk also increases in obese people.
- Reproductive history- Women with no child history has increased risk of uterine cancer.
- Tamoxifen-Women who are treated with tamoxifen (a hormone treatment for breast cancer) can be at an increased risk of developing uterine cancer.
- Diabetes- Women with diabetes are twice as likely to develop uterine cancer as women without the condition.
- PCOS- Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are at a higher risk of developing uterine cancer, as they have high levels of oestrogen in their bodies.
- Endometrial hyperplasia -Endometrial hyperplasia is when the lining of the womb becomes thicker. Women with the condition may be at an increased risk of developing uterine cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy- Use of any hormone replacement therapy, may increase the risk of uterine cancer.
Treatments of uterine cancer:
Treatment types may be available, which are:
- Surgery: Some parts of the women reproductive part may be removed, different surgical methods must be present depending on the part to be removed.
- Total hysterectomy: Surgery to remove the uterus, including the cervix.
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: Surgery to remove both ovaries and both fallopian tubes.
- Radical hysterectomy: Surgery to remove the uterus, cervix, and part of the vagina. The ovaries, fallopian tubes, or nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.
- Radiation therapy-Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy:
- External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer.
- Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer.
- Chemotherapy-Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing.
- Systemic chemotheraphy-When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body
- Regional chemotherapy-When chemotherapy is placed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells infected areas.
- Hormone therapy-Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that removes hormones or blocks their action and stops cancer cells from growing.
- Biologic therapy-Biologic therapy is a treatment that uses the patient's immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defences against cancer.
- Targeted therapy-Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells.
- Monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors are two types of targeted therapy in uterine cancer.