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  • Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer: Heavy Bleeding May Be One of Them

    Endometrial cancer is the sixth most common cancer among women
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer: Heavy Bleeding May Be One of Them
PHOTO BY @RyanKing999/iStock
  • For a few months, Normie (not her real name), a mom of one, noticed that she had been bleeding longer than usual on her monthly period, but she dismissed it to be a sign of pre-menopause. She is in her early 40s. But upon undergoing some tests and a checkup with her doctor, it turns out that the abnormal bleeding was caused by endometrial cancer. Normie was operated on and is receiving chemotherapy.  

    According to the World Cancer Research Fund, endometrial cancer is the sixth most commonly occurring cancer in women, and the 15th most commonly occurring cancer overall. There was an estimated 380,000 new cases of endometrial cancer worldwide in 2018.

    What is endometrial cancer?

    The endometrium is the inner lining of the uterus. The uterus is the pear-shaped, hollow organ in your reproductive system. Among women who are in their reproductive years, every month the endometrial wall thickens, and is lined with nutrient-rich blood in preparation for pregnancy. If a pregnancy does not happen, the thickened uterine lining breaks down and leaves the body through the vagina, which is your monthly period.

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    A hormonal imbalance could cause the endometrial lining to grow thicker than normal, and it is said that cancer cells may begin to grow from there.

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    Symptoms of endometrial cancer

    Some of the early signs of endometrial cancer are:

    • bleeding that is not part of your period
    • pelvic pain or cramping
    • pain during sex
    • vaginal bleeding after menopause

    Causes of endometrial cancer

    The exact cause of endometrial cancer is not known. Cancer itself, however, is an abnormal growth or tumor formed from cells that have mutated and multiplied. Instead of dying at a set time like normal cells do, cancer cells continue to grow and invade nearby tissues of the body.

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    Risk factors

    A woman has greater chances of being diagnosed with endometrial cancer with the following:

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    • Age - most cases of endometrial cancer occur after menopause
    • Years of menstruating - if you started menstruating early and / or menopaused late
    • No pregnancies - a woman who had never been pregnant is at greater risk than one who had at least one pregnancy
    • Obesity - being on the heavy side and having an excessive amount of fats in your body may affect the balance of your hormones
    • Sedentary lifestyle - not being physically active could put you at risk
    • Medication for breast cancer - Tamoxifen, a hormone replacement drug, is commonly used in managing the effects of breast cancer. However, it increases your risks for developing endometrial cancer

    Diagnosis

    To check for the presence of cancer cells in your endometrium, your doctor may perform a process called biopsy, where he takes a tissue sample from it and examines it more closely.    

    Management of symptoms

    Your doctor will offer you options for the management of the symptoms of endometrial cancer depending on the severity and stage of the illness. There is surgery, where the entire uterus, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and lymph nodes are taken out surgically. There is also the option of medication in the form of hormone therapy, which may be suitable for younger patients who still wish to have children in the future. Said procedures may also be complemented with radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

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