Signs and Risk Factors of Uterine Cancer

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Uterine cancer is cancer that affects the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus). There are two types of uterine cancers, namely: endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. Most of the time women will be diagnosed with endometrial cancer instead of uterine sarcoma. The uterus is responsible for protecting and nurturing an implanted foetus during pregnancy. The chances of you developing uterine cancer increase if have a family history of cancer


Signs and Symptoms of Uterine Cancer

Symptoms are defined as changes that you experience in your body. Sings are something that can be measured by doing a test. Common symptoms of uterine cancer are unusual vaginal bleeding, abnormal pap smear results and lower abdominal pain. The most common symptom of uterine cancer is unusual bleeding, spotting, or discharge. This can range from watery and blood-streaked flow to a flow that contains more blood. It is not normal to bleed after menopause, this is considered a red flag. If you do experience bleeding after menopause it is advised that you seek medical attention, preferably a medical doctor specialising in women’s health. 


What Is a Pap Smear?

A pap smear is a test that is conducted to diagnose cancer in a woman’s reproductive system. It involves collecting tissue from the cervix. For women between the ages of 21 to 65, doctors generally recommend a pap smear every three years. If you have risk factors doctors might recommend that you do a pap smear more frequently. Risk factors include, a diagnosis of cervical cancer or pre-cancerous cells, HIV, weakened immune system due to chemotherapy and smoking. 


Risk Factors of Uterine Cancer

There are several risk factors that could increase the chances of you getting uterine cancer. These risk factors include age, family, and lifestyle. The chance of developing uterine cancer increases after the age of 50. An unhealthy diet and lifestyle can increase the chances of becoming obese which could increase the chances of uterine cancer. Fatty foods are high in calories and can also increase the risk of developing high cholesterol, it is recommended that you avoid eating too much fatty foods. Unfortunately, cancer is hereditary, and if you have someone in your family with cancer, the chances of you developing cancer can increase. 

Other conditions such as diabetes and ovarian disease can also increase the risk of developing uterine cancer. Diabetes Type 2 is often associated with obesity and can increase the chances of uterine cancer. Women with ovarian growth have higher oestrogen levels and low progesterone levels, this hormonal imbalance can increase the chances of developing uterine cancer. 


Menstrual History and Uterine Cancer

Early menstruation can increase the chances for you of developing uterine cancer. The reason for this is that the uterus gets exposed to oestrogen from an early age. Experiencing menopause after the age of 50 is because the uterus is exposed to oestrogen for longer. Some studies indicated that not getting pregnant can also increase your chances of developing uterine cancer. 


Complications of Uterine Cancer

The worst complication associated with uterine cancer is death. This is why it is very important to diagnose uterine cancer from an early stage so that it can be treated. The prognosis is usually very good for treating uterine cancer at an early stage. Other complications include, anaemia, cancer spreading to the rest of your body, or your body does not respond well to the treatment. 


How Is Uterine Cancer Diagnosed?

It is advised that you speak to your healthcare provider should you experience any abnormal symptoms related to uterine cancer. Your doctor will ask you questions about your family history with cancer and perform a few tests including a pelvic exam and physical exam. Blood tests are performed to measure the CA-125 protein in your blood. This protein can be an indication of cancer in your body. Imaging tests such as CT scans, MRI scans and a transvaginal ultrasound can be conducted to detect uterine cancer.  Other tests include an endometrial biopsy, hysteroscopy and a dilation and curettage procedure. 

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