Uterine cancer occurs when cells inside the uterus grow out of control and form tumors. There are different types of uterine cancer. The inside of the uterus has two layers of tissue – the endometrium (inner layer) and myometrium (outer layer), which is muscle tissue. The most common type of uterine cancer starts in the endometrium and is called endometrial cancer. Although the cervix is part of the uterus, cervical cancer is not considered a type of uterine cancer. Uterine cancer most often occurs after menopause.
Uterine Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis
Uterine cancer symptoms may include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Difficulty urinating
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
Uterine cancer diagnostic testing may include:
- Pelvic exam to check for abnormal areas or lumps around your vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and rectum
- Biopsy – a small tissue sample is taken from the inner lining of the uterus. Usually, a thin tube is inserted through the cervix into the uterus, and a sample is gently scraped off for examination under a microscope by a pathologist.
- Ultrasound – procedure in which sound waves are bounced off internal tissues or organs, such as the uterus. The wave echoes form an image of body tissues called a sonogram
Uterine Cancer Treatment
Uterine cancer treatment varies depending on the stage of your cancer and your personal medical history and preferences. However, uterine cancer treatment generally includes one or more of the following:
- Surgery to remove the tumor. This may involve a total hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus and cervix), bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (surgery to remove both ovaries and both fallopian tubes), and/or radical hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus, cervix, and part of the vagina).
- Radiation therapy – uses focused, high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing
- Chemotherapy – the use of drugs to stop cancer cells from multiplying in the body
- Hormone therapy – medications that remove hormones or block their action to stop cancer cells from growing
- Targeted therapy – the use of drugs or other substances to more precisely identify and attack the cancer cells or genetic mutations specific to your tumor sub-type
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