Cancer of the uterus begins when cancerous cells grow and multiply on certain layers of tissue within the uterus. The uterus is the pear-shaped structure located in a woman’s pelvis and is where a baby grows and develops when a woman is pregnant.
The two types of uterine cancer include:
- Endometrial cancer, which develops in the inner tissue layer of the uterus (endometrium). This is the most common form of uterine cancer.
- Uterine sarcoma, which develops in the muscular wall of the uterus (myometrium). This type of uterine cancer is extremely rare.
Uterine Cancer Causes
It’s not known what exactly causes uterine cancer. Like other cancers, the condition results when cells mutate, grow and multiply quickly and form a tumor.
All women are at risk for developing uterine cancer, but other risk factors include:
- Being aged 50 or older
- Imbalances of estrogen and progesterone
- A family history of gynecological cancers
- A diet high in animal fats
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome and other ovarian diseases
- Lynch syndrome, or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer
Uterine Cancer Symptoms
The symptoms of uterine cancer may include:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
- Heavy menstrual periods that last longer than normal
- Pain or cramping in the lower abdomen or pelvis
Women who’ve completed menopause may experience vaginal bleeding or spotting, as well as a thin or clear white vaginal discharge.
Diagnosing Uterine Cancer
A uterine cancer specialist can usually diagnose uterine cancer by completing:
- A physical exam
- A patient’s medical history
- A pelvic exam
- Lab tests
- Imaging tests, such as transvaginal ultrasound
- A biopsy or hysteroscopy
Treatments for Uterine Cancer
The uterine cancer specialists at Tampa General Hospital’s Cancer Institute create treatment plans depending on the type of cancer found in a patient and a patient’s overall health.
Treatment options may include a combination of:
- Surgery to remove some or all the uterus
- Chemotherapy, including hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
In addition, cervical cancer patients treated at TGH may be eligible for clinical trials and have access to state-of-the-art treatments.