Endometrial cancer forms in the uterus, the muscular, hollow organ in which a fetus grows. More specifically, cancerous cells affect the tissues of the endometrium, which is the innermost layer of the uterus. Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer and is often detected early because of the abnormal vaginal bleeding that occurs.
Endometrial Cancer Causes
As with many types of cancer, what causes endometrial cancer is not fully understood. The condition results when the DNA of cells mutate. These mutations cause abnormal cell growth and excessive multiplication, which can result in a tumor.
All women are at risk for developing endometrial cancer, but other risk factors include:
- Estrogen and progesterone imbalances
- Having gone through menopause
- Undergoing hormone therapy for breast cancer
- Lynch syndrome, a hereditary colorectal cancer
- Never having been pregnant
- Starting menstruation before the age of 12
Endometrial Cancer Symptoms
The symptoms of endometrial cancer can include:
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
- Vaginal bleeding, spotting or discharge after menopause
- Pelvic pain or cramping
- Feeling a tumor in the pelvic region
- Unexplained weight loss
Diagnosing Endometrial Cancer
Endometrial cancer is often detected and diagnosed in its early stages because of the abnormal vaginal bleeding that is produced.
Gynecologists typically diagnose endometrial cancer by completing:
- A pelvic exam
- A patient’s medical history
- A pelvic or transvaginal ultrasound or hysterosonogram
- A biopsy or hysteroscopy
- Dilation and curettage (D&C)
- Lab tests
Treatments for Endometrial Cancer
The gynecologic oncologists at Tampa General Hospital’s Cancer Institute tailor specific treatment plans for patients depending on the cancer diagnosis and a patient’s overall health.
Treatment options may include a combination of:
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
- Chemotherapy, including hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
- Surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy), as well as the fallopian tubes and ovaries (salpingo-oophorectomy)
In addition, endometrial cancer patients treated at TGH may be eligible for clinical trials and have access to groundbreaking treatments.