Gynecology and Obstetrics Specialist Op. Dr. Meral Sönmezer gave important information on the subject.
What is Uterine Cancer?
All cancers that concern female reproductive organs are popularly referred to as uterine cancer. In fact, different names are given to cancers of different organs of the female genitalia, and their course and treatment can be quite different from each other. Cancers that occur from the endometrium layer lining the inside of the uterus are called "endometrial cancer". Since it is the most common type of cancer in developed countries, this type of cancer comes to mind first when uterine cancer is mentioned. If the cancer has occurred in the neck-shaped part that connects the uterus to the vagina, that is, in the cervical cells, it is called "cervical cancer" (Cervical Cancer). This is the most common type of gynecological cancer in underdeveloped countries. Endometrial cancers constitute the majority of uterine cancers. Although it is less common, cancers originating from the ovaries, vagina, tubes or external genital area called vulva can also be seen.
In this article, we will talk about endometrial cancer, which is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organ and is generally known as uterine cancer.
The endometrium layer is the special cell layer that forms the inner surface of the uterus and thickened regularly and shed in case of menstrual bleeding. Thickening of the endometrium is necessary for the fertilized egg cell to settle in the uterus and to maintain pregnancy. Tumor tissues occur in this area when the endometrium cells undergo changes, divide and multiply abnormally. These malignant tumor tissues develop in the lining of the uterus, causing endometrial cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Uterine Cancer?
Most of the patients who develop uterine cancer are women in the menopausal period. The most common symptom of uterine cancer is vaginal bleeding. Bleeding is a complaint encountered in the early period. In case of symptoms such as postmenopausal bleeding, bleeding between two menstrual periods, prolonged menstrual period and unusual vaginal bleeding, it is very important to consult a doctor in order to make an early diagnosis. Besides vaginal bleeding;
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Pain or feeling of pressure in the pelvic area,
- Bloating in the abdomen,
- Pain during sexual intercourse,
- Unreasonable weight loss,
- Findings such as a mass in the genital area are among the symptoms of uterine cancer.
What are the Risk Factors?
The most important reason that increases the risk of uterine cancer is exposure to high estrogen hormone. If we look at the situations exposed to high estrogen;
- Menstruation, that is, the early start of the menstrual period and entering menopause at a late age may increase the risk of uterine cancer by causing more exposure to the estrogen hormone. Except this;
- Estrogen supplements from outside,
- Nulliparity, meaning never giving birth and infertility,
- Ovulation disorder, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Tamoxifen treatment,
- Obesity or obesity,
- Diabetes (Diabetes),
- Some ovarian tumors,
- Thyroid disease
- Presence of Lynch syndrome,
- Advanced age
- Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy,
- Conditions such as the presence of endometrial cancer in the family are among the risk factors for uterine cancer.
How Is Uterine Cancer Diagnosed?
If one or more of the symptoms of uterine cancer are seen, a gynecologist and obstetrician should be consulted without delay. In order to make a definitive diagnosis, pelvic examination must be performed first, and then some examinations are required to clarify the diagnosis.
Hysteroscopy: The imaging method called hysteroscopy, which is used especially in patients with abnormal vaginal bleeding, allows the doctor to look into the uterus. With a thin tube with a fiber optic camera, the inside of the uterus and endometrium are examined and what caused the abnormal bleeding, endometrial thickness and whether any mass develops in the uterus is investigated. Biopsy can be taken when necessary.
Endometrial Biopsy: In endometrial biopsy, which is one of the most important methods used to confirm the diagnosis of uterine cancer, tissue sample is taken from the lining of the uterus and examined under a microscope. Factors such as the cell type and structure of the cancer can also be determined after the microscopic examination.
Dilatation and curettage (D&C): In cases where the amount of biopsy taken is not sufficient to make a definitive diagnosis of cancer, a sample is taken by widening the cervix and scraping the intrauterine tissue with special tools.
Apart from these, different methods such as saline infusion sonography (SIS), Ultrasonography, Magnetic Resonance (MR), Computed Tomography are also used in the diagnosis of uterine cancer.
What is the Treatment of Uterine Cancer?
Before deciding on treatment in uterine cancer, many factors such as the type and stage of the cancer, the general health status of the patient, age, possible side effects of the treatment to be applied and the effects of the treatment on fertility are taken into consideration. Treatments such as surgical treatment, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy can be applied alone in some cases or combined in some cases.
Gynecological examinations performed at least once a year are vital in terms of prevention from uterine cancer or other gynecological cancers and to ensure early diagnosis. In cases where there are symptoms of uterine cancer, it is necessary to consult a gynecologist and obstetrician immediately in order to prevent the disease from progressing and to achieve a successful treatment.