Uterine cancer

What is uterine cancer?
Uterine cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system. When a woman develops uterine cancer, a tumor is forms in her uterus (womb), the part of her reproductive system where a baby grows.  Uterine cancer is also known as endometrial cancer, as it arises from the endometrium, or lining of the uterus.

What causes uterine cancer?
The exact cause of uterine cancer remains unknown, but several factors have been identified which may increase the risk of a woman developing it:
• Obesity
• Late menopause
• Diabetes
• High consumption of dietary fat
• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• Abnormal overgrowth of the lining of the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia)
• Chronic exposure to unopposed estrogen, or taking estrogen alone - the risk of uterine cancer is higher among women who used estrogen alone (without progesterone) for menopausal hormone therapy over many years
• Family history of uterine cancer
• Previous history of radiation therapy to the pelvis

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a woman will definitely get uterine cancer but can increase her chances of developing it.

What are the symptoms of uterine cancer?
Common symptoms of uterine cancer may include the following, although these can also be indicative of other conditions:
• Abnormal vaginal bleeding or spotting
• Abnormal vaginal discharge,
• Pain in the pelvic area
• Unexplained weight loss
• Change in urinary habits or pain when urinating

How is uterine cancer diagnosed?
At KHCC, a variety of diagnostic techniques are used to accurately detect and stage uterine cancer including:
• Cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) blood test
• Pelvic exam to check the uterus, vagina, and nearby tissues for any lumps or changes in shape or size.
• Transvaginal ultrasound to determine the thickness of the endometrium (lining of the uterus)
• Endometrial biopsy to test the cells of the endometrium for any abnormalities
• Chest X-ray and CT scan of the abdomen to help to accurately stage the disease

How is uterine cancer treated at KHCC?
At KHCC, a team of highly specialized oncologists, surgeons and gynecologists handle the treatment of uterine cancer patients. The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.

Treatment options will vary depending on the size of the tumor and stage of diagnosis, as well as the age and general health of the patient. Treatments for uterine cancer include: varying degrees of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.

The primary treatment of choice is surgery to remove the uterus (an abdominal hysterectomy) and the ovaries (bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy). Other treatments are used in patients who are not candidates for surgery.

Physicians
At KHCC, uterine cancer patients receive top quality care from a multidisciplinary team of gynecology oncology specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating gynecology cancers.

Supportive Care
The gynecology cancer multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that uterine cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include: