It is bound to be frightening to receive a diagnosis of endometrial cancer. But take heart: this form of cancer is treatable, as long as it is found in its earliest stages.
This cancer is quite common in American women and starts its development within the cells of the lining of the uterus. The uterus is the reproductive organ in which a fetus can grow inside a mother-to-be and is shaped like a pear. The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium.
Endometrial cancer has come to be known as uterine cancer, but this isn't quite accurate, since there are areas of the uterus other than the endometrium that can develop cancer, for instance within the myometrial cells. These other types of cancers take the form of sarcomas and are not as common as endometrial cancer.
In order for your body to function in a healthy way, cells must grow and then divide according to specific patterns. Sometimes, however, the cells change or mutate in an abnormal way and their growth spirals. Even though cell growth now exceeds the body's need, the cells continue to divide. At a certain point, the cells will begin to travel outside of their immediate area, destroying tissues, and taking root and growing in other parts of the body.
No one knows just why cancer cells begin to develop in the endometrium. Some physicians posit that levels of the female hormone estrogen may have something to do with the development of this cancer. Researchers have therefore worked on finding what factors serve to increase estrogen levels as well as any other risk factors that may be behind the development of endometrial cancer. Other researchers are looking at alterations in gene material that might contribute toward abnormal endometrial cell growth (cancer).
The good news is that unlike other cancers, endometrial cancer lets you know it's there even in its earliest stages by producing vaginal bleeding even between your menstrual periods or after menopause. Finding the cancer early makes it possible to eradicate the condition by the surgical removal of the uterus (hysterectomy).
Endometrial cancer is most often found in the postmenopausal woman. Vaginal bleeding after the cessation of menstrual periods will alert a woman to see her physician. Here are the symptoms of endometrial cancer:
*Bleeding between periods
*An unusual vaginal discharge that isn't bloody
*Pain during sex
*Unexplained weight loss