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Thursday, January 31, 2013

UTERINE CANCER: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW


The uterus is part of a woman's reproductive system. It's a hollow organ in the pelvis. Cancer begins in cells, the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up the uterus and the other organs of the body.
The buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor. Tumors in the uterus can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Benign tumors are not as harmful as malignant tumors
Cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the uterine tumor. They can travel through lymph vessels to nearby lymph nodes. Also, cancer cells can spread through the blood vessels to the lung, liver, bone, or brain. After spreading, cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues.

WHAT CAUSES UTERINE CANCER
When you get a diagnosis of uterine cancer, it's natural to wonder what may have caused the disease. Doctors usually can't explain why one woman gets uterine cancer and another doesn't.However, we do know that women with certain risk factors may be more likely than others to develop uterine cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of getting a disease.

RISK FACTORS
Studies have found the following risk factors for uterine cancer:
  • Abnormal overgrowth of the endometrium (endometrial hyperplasia): An abnormal increase in the number of cells in the lining of the uterus is a risk factor for uterine cancer. Common symptoms of this condition are heavy menstrual periods, bleeding between periods, and bleeding after menopause.
  • Obesity: Women who are obese have a greater chance of developing uterine cancer.
  • Reproductive and menstrual history: Women are at increased risk of uterine cancer if at least one of the following apply: Have never had children, Had their first menstrual period before age 12, Went through menopause after age 55
  • History of taking estrogen alone: The risk of uterine cancer is higher among women who used estrogen alone (without progesterone) for menopausal hormone therapy for many years.
  • History of taking tamoxifen: Women who took the drug tamoxifen to prevent or treat breast cancer are at increased risk of uterine cancer.
  • History of having radiation therapy to the pelvis: Women who had radiation therapy to the pelvis are at increased risk of uterine cancer.
  • Family health history: Women with a mother, sister, or daughter with uterine cancer are at increased risk of developing the disease. Also, women in families that have an inherited form of colorectal cancer (known as Lynch syndrome) are at increased risk of uterine cancer.
Many women who get uterine cancer have none of these risk factors, and many women who have known risk factors don't develop the disease.


SYMPTOMS
The most common symptom of uterine cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding. It may start as a watery, blood-streaked flow that gradually contains more blood. After menopause, any vaginal bleeding is abnormal.
Other symptoms include; Pain or difficulty when emptying the bladder, Pain during sex, Pain in the pelvic area.
These symptoms may be caused by uterine cancer or by other health problems. Women with these symptoms should tell their doctor so that any problem can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

TREATMENT
Treatment options for people with uterine cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. You may receive more than one type of treatment.
The treatment that's right for you depend mainly on the following: Whether the tumor has invaded the muscle layer of the uterus, whether the tumor has invaded tissues outside the uterus, whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body, the grade of the tumor, your age and general health
SURGERY: Surgery is the most common treatment for women with uterine cancer. The surgeon usually removes the uterus, cervix, and nearby tissues. The nearby tissues may include: Ovaries, Fallopian tubes, nearby lymph nodes, part of the vagina.
RADIATION THERAPY: Radiation therapy is an option for women with all stages of uterine cancer. It may be used before or after surgery. For women who can't have surgery for other medical reasons, radiation therapy may be used instead to destroy cancer cells in the uterus. Women with cancer that invades tissue beyond the uterus may have radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cells in the treated area only.
CHEMOTHERAPY: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be used after surgery to treat uterine cancer that has an increased risk of returning after treatment. For example, uterine cancer that is a high grade or is Stage II, III, or IV may be more likely to return. Also, chemotherapy may be given to women whose uterine cancer can't be completely removed by surgery. For advanced cancer, it may be used alone or with radiation therapy.
HORMONE THERAPY: Some uterine tumors need hormones to grow. These tumors have hormone receptors for the hormones estrogen, progesterone, or both. If lab tests show that the tumor in your uterus has these receptors, then hormone therapy may be an option.Hormone therapy may be used for women with advanced uterine cancer. Also, some women with Stage I uterine cancer who want to get pregnant and have children choose hormone therapy instead of surgery.The most common drug used for hormone therapy is progesterone tablets.

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