WOMB CANCER

WOMB CANCER

What is womb cancer?

  • Womb cancer or also known as endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the womb.

  • The womb is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a woman's lower abdomen between the bladder and the rectum. The womb is a place for the development of fetus.

  • Womb cancer is easily detected in the early stages as it will cause abnormal vaginal bleeding.

  • Partial removal of the uterus through surgery when the cancer is in its early stages gives a higher probability of recovering from the cancer completely.

What are the indications?

Among the signs that you may have womb cancer are:

  • Pain around pelvis area

  • Vaginal bleeding occurs outside of the normal menstruation period

  • Vaginal bleeding even after menopause

  • Abnormal fluid coming out of your vagina

Example of cancer location within the endometrium wall

Pain around the pelvis area may indicate womb cancer

What are the causes?

Among the causes of womb cancer are:

  • Increase in age: The more you age, the higher the probability of getting womb cancer.

  • Menopausal hormone therapy: Women who take estrogen and progesterone hormone therapy to treat menopausal symptoms have a higher risk of developing womb cancer.

  • Hormone therapy for breast cancer treatment: Women who consume some hormone therapy drugs to treat breast cancer are at high risk for developing womb cancer.

  • Personal or family history of womb cancer: Your risk of developing womb cancer increases if you or any of your family members who has blood relations with you had womb cancer in the past.

  • Obesity: Being obese increases the risk of womb cancer.

  • Never get pregnant before: Women who never get pregnant before have a higher risk of developing womb cancer than other women.

How to avoid & control it?

The steps that can be taken to prevent womb cancer are:

 

  • Discussing with your doctor about the risk of taking hormone drugs to treat menopausal signs and breast cancer.

  • Seeing a doctor as soon as possible if there are signs of womb cancer. You have a huge possibility to recover completely from womb cancer if it is treated at its early stages.

  • Exercising regularly to lose weight and maintain body health.

How it is detected?

Discuss with the doctor about your specific situation. With the advice of a doctor, you can decide whether the screening method is right for you.

Womb cancer is detected using:

  • Pelvic examination: The doctor will check the condition of your uterus, ovaries and cervix by using finger and a type of tool called speculum. If your doctor finds any abnormalities in the texture or shape of the uterus, you may need further examination.

  • Hysteroscopy: Usage of a scope to see the inside of your entire uterus.

  • Transvaginal Ultrasound: A small device that produces sound waves will be inserted into your womb to produce a picture of the uterus for analysis.

  • Endometrial Biopsy: Collecting uterine tissue samples without surgery to be analyzed in the laboratory to detect the presence of cancer cells.

  • Dilation & Curettage (D & C): Minor surgery is performed to obtain uterine tissue samples (otherwise unreachable) to be analyzed for the presence of cancer cells.

If your womb cancer is found to have spread to other parts of the body, the doctor may make the following imaging tests throughout or part of your body to identify the location of cancer cells:

  • Bone scan

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • Blood test

  • Mamogram

  • Positron emission tomography (PET scan)

  • Computed tomography examination (CT scan)

Hysteroscopy using scope to observe the condition of uterus

D & C is a minor surgery to obtain uterine tissue samples

How it is treated?

Discuss with your doctor what type of treatment is best for your specific situation.

Among the methods to treat womb cancer are using:

  • Radiation therapy: Using high-powered radiation (such as X-ray, proton) to kill cancer cells.

  • Surgery: To remove either part of or the whole uterus and ovaries.

  • Chemotherapy: Using medicines to kill rapidly growing cells including cancer cells.

  • Hormone Therapy: Treatment to control the level of estrogen and progesterone hormone in your body to kill off cancerous cells or block cancer cells from growing.

When do you need to see a doctor?

  • Make an appointment with your doctor if you recognize signs of womb cancer.

  • Each hospital has different methods for screening womb cancer.

  • Discuss the womb cancer screening with your doctor. Together with a physician, you can decide what is best for you.

Malaysia has been voted numerous times as the best destination to seek quality affordable healthcare. Find a hospital in Malaysia that suits your specific situation here: Hospital Guide

How to get ready with your appointments?

For your preparation, a medical specialist may ask you some questions as follows:

  • Are the signs of your illness occurring continuously or occasionally?

  • How severe are the illness signs on your body?

  • Since when did you begin to experience the signs of the illness?

  • Do you have family members who have had the disease?

  • What triggers the signs of your illness to be more severe? (if any)

  • What do you usually do to relieve any signs of your illness?

 

 

What you can do to prepare before the appointment is:

  • List the signs of your illness.

  • Know any restriction that needs to be done before the appointment. Make sure to ask first what to do before appointment (such as limiting your diet, etc.).

  • List all the medicines, vitamins or supplements you consume.

  • If possible, invite family members or friends to be with you. Sometimes we find it difficult to remember all the information during the appointment. Your companion might just help you with this.

  • List your personal information that can help your doctor in investigating your illness (such as major stresses in your life or any changes in your life recently).

  • List all the questions you would like to ask your doctor.

Here are some general questions that you can ask your doctor:

  • What are the possible causes for signs of illness that appear on me?

  • What method of screening should I take? Do I need to make any necessary arrangements before doing the screening?

  • What is the severity of my illness?

  • Should I get a second doctor's opinion of my condition?

  • What are the treatment options that are suitable for my condition?

  • Are there any side effects for each treatment?

  • How does each treatment option affect my daily life?

  • How big is my possibility of getting completely healed from the disease if I undergo the treatment?

  • Do I need to undergo the treatment immediately without delay?

  • How long will the treatment last?

  • How often should I get examined after treatment?

  • What are the complications that I need to face in the future?

  • What other alternatives are available apart from the medicines you prescribed? (if any)

  • Do I need to make any changes to my lifestyle? What nutrition and level of activity are appropriate for my condition?

  • What else can I do to protect my health?

  • I have other health problems. How can I best manage this situation?

If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to ask the doctor during your appointment.

 

Updated: February 23, 2019

References:

  1. Beirman, Robin., Engel, Roger. An A-Z of Symptoms and Signs. Palgrave Macmillan Australia, 2009.

  2. Papadakis, Maxine A., McPhee, Stephen J., Rabow, Michael W. CURRENT Medical Diagnosis and Treatment. 58th ed. McGraw Hill Professional, 2018.

  3. Porter, Robert S. The Merck Manual of Patient Symptoms: A Concise, Practical Guide to Etiology, Evaluation and Treatment. Wiley, 2008.

  4. Griffith, Henry W. Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness & Surgery. 3rd ed. Body Press/Perigree Books, 1995.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019. Uterine Cancer. [https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/uterine/]. Accessed 18 February 2019.

  6. National Cancer Institute. 2019. Uterine Cancer. [https://www.cancer.gov/types/uterine]. Accessed 16 February 2019.

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