Cancer of the Uterus (Uterine Cancer or Endometrial Cancer)

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Uterine Cancer Symptoms: Vaginal Bleeding

Normal vaginal bleeding is the periodic blood that flows as a discharge from the woman's uterus. Normal vaginal bleeding is also called menorrhea. The process by which menorrhea occurs is called menstruation.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a flow of blood from the vagina that occurs either at the wrong time during the month or in inappropriate amounts.

Quick GuideUnderstanding Cancer: Metastasis, Stages of Cancer, and More

Understanding Cancer: Metastasis, Stages of Cancer, and More

Uterine cancer facts

*Uterine cancer facts medical author: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

  • The uterus is a hollow organ in females located in the pelvis, commonly called the womb. The uterus functions to support fetal development until birth. The uterus is shaped like an upside down pear; the top is the fundus, the middle is the corpus, and bottom is the cervix.
  • Uterine cancer is the abnormal (malignant) growth of any cells that comprise uterine tissue.
  • Although the exact causes of uterine cancers are not known, risk factors include women with endometrial overgrowth (hyperplasia), obesity, women who have never had children, menses beginning before age 12, menopause after age 55, estrogen therapy, taking tamoxifen, radiation to the pelvis, family history of uterine cancer, and Lynch syndrome (most commonly seen as a form of inherited colorectal cancer).
  • Common signs and symptoms of uterine cancer are abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, pain with urination and sex, and pelvic pains.
  • Uterine cancer is diagnosed usually with a pelvic exam, ultrasound, and biopsy.
  • Uterine cancer stages (0 to IV) are determined by biopsy, chest X-ray, and/or CT or MRI scans.
  • Treatment options may include one or more of the following: surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. Treatment depends on the cancer stage with stage IV as the most extensive and usually caused by the most aggressive type of cancer cells.
  • Surgical therapy usually involves removal of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, adjacent lymph nodes, and part of the vagina.
  • Radiation therapy may be by external radiation or by internal radiation (brachytherapy).
  • Chemotherapy usually requires IV administration of drugs designed to kill cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy (usually progesterone) is used on cancer cells that require another hormone (estrogen) for growth.
  • Second opinions can be obtained by referrals made by your doctor to others in the local medical society, or to other doctors elsewhere.
  • Follow-up care is important. Complications can be treated early and possible cancer recurrence can be diagnosed early.
  • Support groups are varied and many are local. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) can help locate support groups and possible clinical trials.

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