Endometrial cancer of the uterus, sometimes referred to as uterine cancer, is the most common cancer of the reproductive system while ovarian is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in women. This condition most frequently affects older women, with the incidence increasing significantly at the time of menopause.
Endometrial cancers develop in the uterus, though most develop in the endometrial glands that line the inner wall of the uterine cavity rather than in the uterus' muscular wall.
Although endometrial cancer usually occurs after menopause, it also may occur around the time that menopause begins. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of uterine cancer. Bleeding may start as a watery, blood-streaked flow that gradually contains more blood. Women should not assume that abnormal vaginal bleeding is part of menopause.
You should see your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
The primary treatment for endometrial cancer is surgery. Surgical treatment usually consists of cytologic sampling of the peritoneal fluid, abdominal exploration, palpation and biopsy of suspicious lymph nodes, abdominal hysterectomy, and removal of both ovaries. Lymphadenectomy, or removal of pelvic and para-aortic lymph nodes, is sometimes performed for tumors that have high risk features. Sometimes, removal of the omentum is also performed.
Abdominal hysterectomy is recommended over vaginal hysterectomy because it affords the opportunity to examine and obtain washings of the abdominal cavity to detect any further evidence of cancer.
Women with stage 1 disease who are at increased risk for recurrence and those with stage 2 disease are often offered surgery in combination with radiation therapy. Chemotherapy may be considered in some cases, especially for those with stage 3 and 4 disease.
Hormonal therapy with progestins and antiestrogens has been used for the treatment of endometrial stromal sarcomas.