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What is Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer

Florida Hospital Cancer Institute offers the latest and most effective treatment for uterine (endometrial) cancer in Orlando for residents of Central Florida and the surrounding regions. Uterine cancer (also called endometrial cancer) is the most common of all cancers in the female reproductive system. It can either form in the inner lining of the uterus or the outer layer of muscle tissue. The survival rate for women with endometrial cancer is about 88%. If the cancer is found in an early stage, the 5-year survival rate increases to over 95%, demonstrating the importance of regular examinations and testing. The survival rate for uterine sarcoma depends largely on the staging of the cancer and the individual, so the percentages of women who have survived five years is broad.To learn more about treatment for uterine (endometrial) cancer in Orlando, or to schedule an appointment, call (407) 303-1700 or click here to fill out an online assistance form.

The vast majority of uterine cases – 90% – involve the inner lining, which is known as the endometrium. It is so prevalent that the term “endometrial cancer” is often used interchangeably with “uterine cancer”. The remaining 10% of cancers are found in the outer layer of muscle tissue. This form of uterine cancer is known as uterine sarcoma.

According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 37,000 new cases of uterine cancer are diagnosed each year and nearly 7,500 women die annually from the two forms of uterine cancer, endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma.

Uterine cancer primarily affects the older segment of the population. The average age at the time the disease is diagnosed is 60 years. In fact, 75% of all cases of uterine cancer are found in postmenopausal patients. Surprisingly, Caucasian women are more likely to have endometrial cancer while African American women are more likely to be diagnosed with uterine sarcoma.

Causes of Uterine Endometrial Cancer

Currently, the cause of uterine (endometrial) cancer is unknown, but scientists are working to find more evidence as to why these tumors are created.

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Symptoms of Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer

Following are signs and symptoms of each form of uterine cancer, beginning with the most common, endometrial cancer.

  • Women with endometrial cancer may have the following symptoms:
  • Unusual spotting, bleeding or other discharge. 90% of all women who are diagnosed with this form of uterine cancer have abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods or after menopause.
  • Non-bloody vaginal discharge. This can also be a sign of endometrial cancer. The best guideline is that you should discuss any abnormal discharge with your doctor.
  • Pelvic pain and/or mass accompanied by weight loss. This is often a sign of endometrial cancer in its later stages.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor so he can get a full medical history of your family, discuss your symptoms and perform an exam, including a pelvic exam.

Uterine sarcoma can have similar symptoms, specifically:

  • Abnormal bleeding or spotting. If you’ve gone through menopause and are experiencing this, it could be a sign of uterine sarcoma. Approximately 85% of all women who have uterine sarcoma report irregular vaginal bleeding between periods or after menopause.
  • Vaginal discharge. 10% of all women with uterine sarcoma have a discharge where no blood is present.
  • Pelvic pain and/or mass. Approximately 1 out of 10 women report having a mass that can be felt when they are first diagnosed.

If you have one or more of these symptoms, you’ll want to speak with your doctor about them. Other diseases can have similar symptoms, so the presence of one of more of these signs doesn’t mean you have uterine sarcoma.

To learn more about treatment for uterine (endometrial) cancer in Orlando, or to schedule an appointment, call (407) 303-1700 or click here to fill out an online assistance form.

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Stages of Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer

“Staging” is a process doctors use to determine the nature of your tumor and how much the cancer has spread. When choosing a pathway of treatment, doctors use staging to determine the most effective option. If you have questions about your particular stage of uterine cancer, be sure to ask your doctor for additional information.

Stage 1 Uterine Cancer

The uterine cancer is still confined to the uterus itself and has not spread to other organs or tissues.

Stage 1A: This is the earliest form of Stage 1 and the cancer is only in the endometrium, which is the inner lining of the uterus.

Stage 1B: The cancer has spread into the myometrium, the muscular wall of the uterus, but has grown less than halfway through it.

Stage 1C: The cancer has grown more than halfway through the myometrium, but hasn’t yet spread beyond the uterus itself.

Stage 2 Uterine Cancer

In addition to being present in the body of the uterus, the cancer has spread to the cervix. It has not, however spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

Stage 2A: The cancer is in the body of the uterus and the glands that form the inner lining of the cervix, which are known as endocervical glands.

Stage 2B: In addition to the body of the uterus, cancer has spread past the lining and into the supporting connective tissue of the cervix, which is called the cervical stroma.

Stage 3 Uterine Cancer

Cancer has spread to the outside of the uterus but not beyond the pelvic area.

Stage 3A: The cancer has not yet spread to the lymph nodes, but it has been detected in one of these areas: the outer surface of the uterus (the serosa), the fallopian tubes or ovaries (the adnexa) and/or there are cancer cells in the peritoneal fluid, which is the fluid that is in the inner lining of the pelvis and abdobmen.

Stage 3B: Cancer has spread into the vagina, but not the lymph nodes or any other regions.

Stage 3C: The lymph nodes near the uterus are now cancerous but other sites are not involved yet.

Stage 4 Uterine Cancer

In Stage 4 cancer has spread to the inner surface of the urinary bladder or the rectum (the lower part of the large intestine), to the lymph nodes of the groin and to distant organs, such as the lungs or bones.

Stage 4A: The inner lining of the rectum or the urinary bladder are now involved. The cancer may or may not have spread into the lymph nodes but has not yet spread beyond.

Stage 4B: The cancer is now in organs that are away from the uterus, such as the bones of lungs. The lymph nodes may or may not be involved and the cancer can be of any size.

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Risk Factors for Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer

Researchers throughout the world continue to study the cause of uterine cancer, but why it strikes some women and not others is still a mystery. However, researchers have been able to identify risk factors that are more common in women who have uterine cancer. That’s not to say that all women who have one or more of these risks will get uterine cancer. It just means that they have a greater risk than women who have none of the factors.

  • Age: Both forms of uterine cancer, endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma, occurs most commonly in women who are over 50.
  • Estrogen replacement therapy. If you have used estrogen replacement therapy during menopause, to prevent osteoporosis or reduce the risk of heart disease, you could be at an increased risk of contracting uterine cancer. The longer the treatment, the greater the risk.
  • Being overweight. Overweight women are twice as likely to develop cancer of the uterus than women who are not. Scientists believe fat converts certain forms other hormones into estrogen, increasing its levels in the body.
  • Diabetes and high blood pressure. There is a correlation between this and uterine cancer, but researchers have been unable to determine yet whether the increased risk is due to these factors or being overweight.
  • Other cancers. If you have other cancers, you run a greater risk of having uterine cancer.
  • Taxmoifen. Taking this drug to treat breast can increase the risk of developing uterine cancer. It’s believed that the estrogen-like effect affects the uterus.
  • Race: White women have a greater chance of developing uterine cancer than African American. In addition, Caucasian women are more likely to have endometrial cancer while African American women are more likely to be diagnosed with uterine sarcoma.
  • Women who have one or more of these risk factors should let their doctor know about them. This will allow your doctor to monitor your health and look for additional signs of uterine cancer. Early detection and treatment is essential to improving survivability.
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Other Types of Uterine Cancers

In addition to the major forms of uterine cancer (endometrial and uterine sarcoma), the Gynecologic Oncology Center’s team of specialists are experienced at treating all types of uterine cancer, even those that are fairly rare.

Following are some of the other forms of uterine cancers treated at our Gynecology Center in Orlando:

Mixed Mullerian sarcoma is a cancer that grows rapidly and can spread to other parts of the body. It is most prevalent in women who are 70 years of age or older. The most common symptom is bleeding accompanied by pelvic pain and vaginal discharge.

Mullerian adenosarcoma is a less malignant form of cancer and extremely rare. It develops in women of all wages

Representing only 1% of all uterine tumors, Leiomyosarcoma begins in the uterus wall, causing the uterus to become enlarged. Eventually, the enlargement causes pain and bleeding, most often in women between the 40 and 60.

As with all forms of uterine cancer, the best treatment is early detection and intervention. Regular checkups at the Gynecologic Oncology Center and open discussions during your exams can help your physician recognize symptoms that may be early indicators of uterine cancer. Since all women are different, the presence of any one symptom isn’t necessarily an indication that cancer is present.

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Tests to Diagnose Uterine Endometrial Cancer

There is no test for uterine cancer and the presence of the disease may not even be discovered during a routine pelvic exam. Most women are diagnosed with either endometrial cancer or uterine sarcoma because they have shown symptoms of the disease.

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Request an Appointment

To learn more about treatment for uterine (endometrial) cancer in Orlando, or to schedule an appointment, call (407) 303-1700 or click here to fill out an online assistance form.
 

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