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uterine-cancer

Uterine cancer

What is Uterine Cancer?

Listed amongst the top 5 cancers in India, uterine cancer develops in the cells lining the uterus. Since the malignancy usually develops in the endometrial cells, uterine cancer is also termed endometrial cancer. The cancer is usually detected at an early stage because it leads to vaginal bleeding. Other types of uterine cancers include:

  • Serous adenocarcinoma – These tumours are quite likely to spread to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body.
  • Adenosquamous carcinoma – It is a rare type of uterine cancer that is somewhat similar to endometrial adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Uterine carcinosarcoma – The cancerous cells look just like endometrial cancer and have very high chances of spreading to the lymph nodes
  • Uterine leiomyosarcoma – It is the most common type of uterine sarcoma that develops in the myometrium

What causes Uterine Cancer?

Although the exact cause of endometrial cancer is not known, it is believed to be a result of mutations in the DNA of the cells lining the uterus. It is these mutations that compel the cells to multiply abnormally and uncontrollably. As time passes by, the cells accumulate to form a mass or lump called a tumour

What are the various risk factors associated with Uterine Cancer?

There are various risk factors that can increase your risk of developing uterine cancer. These include:

  • Hormonal imbalance - This is caused by fluctuation in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone.
  • Early-onset of periods and late menopause - This means more years of menstruation which is likely to increase your exposure to oestrogen.
  • Advanced age - The risks of uterine cancer increase with increasing age and become significantly high after menopause.
  • Being overweight or obese - Excessive body weight is likely to elevate your risk of endometrial cancer as this interfere with the normal balance of hormones.
  • Undergoing hormone therapy for breast cancer - Certain drugs given as a part of the therapy come with slight risks of endometrial cancer
  • Inherited colon cancer syndrome - Women who have a family history of colon cancer syndrome are likely to face elevated risks of uterine cancer.
  • Never having complete - Women who have never been pregnant before also fall in the risk category

Screening and diagnosis

  • Pelvic exam – This is marked by the thorough inspection of the vulva and vagina by inserting lubricated fingers inside.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound – This is carried out by introducing the ultrasound probe via the vagina into the uterus, so as to visualize the uterine lining and detect any abnormalities or lesions.
  • Hysteroscopy – It involves the use of a special device known as a hysteroscope, to examine the uterus and the endometrium
  • Biopsy – It refers to the thorough examination of a sample of tissues collected from the uterus to look for any traces of cancer.

Treatment

Surgery – The surgery involves the removal of the tumour along with the diseased organs and tissues. This includes

  • Hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the uterus
  • Hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy, in which the ovaries and fallopian tube are removed along with the uterus.

Radiation therapy – It involves the use of high energy radiations emitted by X rays or protons. The help to target the cancer cells externally or from within the patient's body.

Chemotherapy – It involves the intravenous or oral administration of certain drugs that target and kill the cancerous cells. These may be given before the surgery to shrink the tumour and make it easier to extract it, or after the surgery to target the cancerous cells that have been left intact during the surgery.

Hormone therapy – It involves the use of certain medication to balance the hormonal levels and bring down the ones that support the growth of malignant cells.

Targeted drug therapy – This helps to target specific weaknesses of the malignant cells and blocks the same to kill these cells.

Immunotherapy – It involves the use of certain drugs that help to boost the body’s immune system and is usually recommended to patients with advanced uterine cancer.

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