Uterine cancer manifests in different ways - endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. Most instances of uterine cancer occur in the endometrial tissue lining the uterus. While instances of uterine cancer are on the rise, they are curable if detected early. Uterine cancer typically affects a woman after menopause. The noticeable symptoms of uterus cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, But not all abnormal bleeding is related to cancer. A doctor can examine the patient and diagnose the condition. Pelvic pain and change in bowel routine are noticed when the cancer of the uterus is at an advanced stage. Certain conditions predispose some women to developing uterine cancer. Obesity is a major factor that increases a woman's risk of developing this disease. Excessive fat cells lead to increased production of estrogen that builds up in the uterine lining. Use of estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) can greatly increase a woman's risks of developing cancer of the uterus. Women who have few or no children and have had a delayed menopause are also at greater risk. Birth control pills containing only estrogen puts a woman at increased risk of uterine cancer. Heredity also plays a role in whether a woman is susceptible to uterine cancer.
A doctor can examine the medical history and conduct a physical examination to check the uterus, vagina, ovaries and rectum. A pap smear is recommended annually for women over the age of 21, especially for those who have been sexually active. A few cells from the cervix and upper vagina are scraped and taken for testing. This test aids in detecting any malignant and pre-malignant changes in the cervix. Uterine cancer is treated with surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy or hormones. Often, some of these treatment options are used in combination. Surgery involves removal of uterus and cervix. Chemotherapy involves use of drugs to treat cancer while radiation uses high-intensity rays to kill cancer cells. But women undergoing treatment may experience side effects such as diarrhea, vaginal burning sensation, pain during intercourse, loss of appetite and nausea. Chemotherapy may lead to hair loss, vomiting and drop in blood count.
Cancer of the uterine cervix is a gradual form of cancer that can be treated. The cervix is that portion of the uterus that lies at the top of the vagina. Cervical cancer is usually caused by various strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). The Pap smear has played a major role in early diagnosis of this form of uterine cancer. Cases of 'pre cancerous' cervical changes are detected with pap smears and treated in time before they turn malignant. The pap smear test is able to detect any abnormal cells in the cervical region. The 'pre cancerous' condition is referred to as 'dysplasia'. Consequently the morbidity rate of cervical cancer has drastically reduced. Cervix biopsies of different types are diagnostic procedures that can also function as treatments for pre-cancerous lesion in the cervix area.
In the early stages, cervical cancer does not give rise to any symptoms. Symptoms of cervical cancer are abnormal vaginal bleeding and foul-smelling discharge. A woman may also experience pelvic or back pain. There may be weight loss and loss of appetite. Women who have genital warts are at increased risk of cervical cancer. Multiple sexual partners and early age of sexual activity can also make a woman more susceptible to cervical cancer. A woman with a weakened immune system is more at risk of cervical cancer. Cigarette smoking and oral contraceptives have also been known to increase the risk of developing abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. A doctor will conduct a physical examination to check for any irregular fleshy growth.
Cervical cancer is treated according to the size and stage of the disease. Treatment is also decided based on the woman's age and health. If detected in the early stages, cervical cancer can be treated without removing the uterus or damaging the cervix.
Dilation and Curettage
Dilation and curettage or D&C is a procedure that involves widening of the cervix and removing of the uterine lining and contents by scraping and scooping. Dilation and curettage is used as a diagnostic procedure for fibroids or uterine cancer and often as an abortion procedure during the first trimester. A hysteroscope is used to look inside the womb for abnormalities such as fibroids or polyps. D&C is also done when there is endometrial abnormality or menstrual bleeding irregularity. D&C is done under anesthesia. The procedure doesn't take much time but the woman needs to rest for the day. A D&C is not done on women who have an infection of the uterus or fallopian tubes.
Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: February 16, 2019