Table of Contents
A Guide to the Causes of Uterine Cancer
The uterus is a female reproductive organ that nurtures and develops a fetus. It also regulates the menstrual cycle. When these functions are disrupted, any woman is at risk of uterine cancer.
Uterus cancer or endometrial cancer occurs when there’s an abnormal growth of cells in the uterus. It’s known as the sixth most common cancer in women around the world. About 380,000 new cases were recorded in 2018. The numbers are quite alarming, and in America, about 20.1% of the 100,000 population has this type of cancer.
If you’d like to know about the factors that can cause uterine cancer, read on.
What Causes Uterus Cancer?
The exact causes of uterine cancer are unknown, but risk factors heighten a woman’s chances. However, having one or more risk factors doesn’t guarantee that the disease will develop.
The following are the risk factors of uterine cancer:
- Obesity – Obesity is associated with over 70% of uterine cancer incidences. Overweight women’s fatty tissue produces more estrogen, a sex hormone that can increase the risk of uterine cancer. This risk increases as a person’s body mass index (BMI), the weight-to-height ratio, rises.
- Age – Women above the age of 50 are more likely to have uterine cancer. At the time of diagnosis, the average patient is 60 years old. It’s uncommon for women under the age of 45 to be diagnosed with uterine cancer.
- Race – White women are more likely than women of other races or ethnicities to acquire uterine cancer. On the other hand, Black women have a higher risk of being diagnosed with advanced uterine cancer. Black and Hispanic women are also more likely to have severe malignancies.
- Diet and Nutrition – Food high in animal fat can increase the risk of uterine cancer as obesity is also a risk factor.
- Diabetes – A meta-analysis conducted showed that women with diabetes have a 72% increased risk of endometrial cancer than those without diabetes.
- Never having been pregnant –You have a higher chance of endometrial cancer if you have never been pregnant than if you have had at least one pregnancy.
- Starting menstruation at an early age – Endometrial cancer is more likely in women who start menstruating early before the age of 12 or wait longer to reach menopause. The longer you’ve had periods, the more estrogen your endometrium has been exposed to.
- Tamoxifen – Tamoxifen (Nolvadex), a medicine used to prevent or cure breast cancer, has been linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer in women. The benefits of tamoxifen usually outweigh the risk of uterine cancer, but all women who are prescribed the drug should discuss their personal benefits and risks with their doctor.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – HPV plays a role in women incurring endometrial cancer. Causes of uterine cancer HPV are having unprotected sexual intercourse with strangers that have the disease or not being aware of your partner’s illness background.
Symptoms of Uterus Cancer
You need to be aware of your body’s condition to seek help when you need it. Cancer is a disease that can slowly kill your organs if left untreated. So, evaluate yourself and check if you have symptoms of uterus cancer.
Here are the most common symptoms of uterus cancer:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding, specifically any bleeding after menopause
- Heavier than usual periods, vaginal bleeding between periods
- Periods that continue without a break
Here are the less common symptoms:
- Watery discharge that may have an unpleasant smell
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Difficulty in urinating
- A change in bowel habit
Diagnosis of Uterus Cancer
Early detection can prevent more complications for endometrial cancer. If you’re having more than one of the symptoms above, it’s best to consult a physician.
Here are some of the tests done to diagnose uterus cancer:
- Ultrasound – It is a common way of detecting any problems with the female reproductive system with the use of a small wand to detect sound waves and will be translated to pictures. This test will point to the area where the biopsy will be done.
- Endometrial Tissue Testing – A sample tissue from the uterus will be observed with a microscope.
- Endometrial Biopsy – One of the most accurate tests for uterus cancer. A thin and flexible tube is inserted into the uterus through the cervix. Then, a small portion of the uterus is removed through the tube to be observed by the doctor.
- Hysteroscopy – The doctor will insert a small telescope into the uterus to evaluate if there is a cancer polyp.
- Dilation and Curettage (D&C) – If the endometrial biopsy didn’t get enough tissue from the uterus, D&C uses an instrument to get tissue through the cervix.
Treatment Options for Uterus Cancer
Uterine cancer is treated with a single treatment or a combination of treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and systemic drugs. Combinations of these cancer treatments are frequently prescribed. However, their effectiveness is dependent on the cancer’s stage and features.
Here are some of the treatment options administered to patients with uterus cancer:
- Surgery – Typically, the first treatment used for uterine cancer is surgery. A surgical gynecologic oncologist removes the tumor. Before you undergo surgery, talk to your doctor about the probable adverse effects of the procedure you’ll be having.
- Radiation therapy – Radiation therapy is usually provided after surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain. Before surgery, radiation therapy may be used to shrink the tumor. If you’re unable to have surgery, your doctor may suggest radiation therapy.
- Therapies using medication – The use of medication to destroy cancer cells is called systemic therapy. This type of therapy uses a treatment that goes through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells anywhere in the body. Chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy are the types of systemic therapies used for uterine cancer.
Survival rates determine the percentage of those who recovered from cancer and helps you assess the probability of successful treatment. However, keep in mind that these rates are only estimates and can’t be the same for everyone.
For uterus cancer, the following are the five-year relative survival rates:
- 95% – In a localized category, cancer hasn’t spread to any other sites besides the uterus.
- 69% – For regional, cancer has already spread to nearby sites or lymph nodes.
- 17% – For the distant category, cancer has already spread to the lungs, liver, or any other parts of the body.
Steps for Prevention
The stages of uterus cancer range from Stage I to IVB based on the tumor size, as well as the level of spread within organs and lymph nodes. The lower the stage, the less cancer has spread. So, it’s best to have checkups with your gynecologist to know your diagnoses, more about uterine cancer causes and symptoms, and get immediate medical attention to avoid complications with extreme cancer stages.
You can also follow these steps to live healthily and prevent uterus cancer causes:
- Do daily physical activities. Studies have proven that doing these activities can help reduce the risk of getting endometrial cancer.
- Take prescribed pills to regulate the menstrual cycle to prevent overgrowth of the uterine lining, which is one of the uterus cancer causes.
- Check your body mass index from time to time to maintain the normal weight for your height since obesity increases the risk of uterus cancer.
- Maintain a healthy low-fat diet.
All American Hospice Is Here for You
If you’ve been diagnosed with uterus cancer, you don’t have to handle it alone. At All American Hospice, our expert caregivers are ready to provide you with everything you need to become more comfortable. Connect with us, and we’ll start planning your health and personal care program.