Also sometimes referred to as ‘uterine cancer’, endometrial cancer is a dreadful disease that appears when abnormal cells start to form and attack endometrial lining of uterus region (womb). This type of cancer does not cause any serious problem in its developmental stages. However, as its stage advances, it can weaken patient’s body to a large extent and lead to disabling health conditions. It may result in patient’s death if not treated early. Therefore, proper diagnosis as well as timely treatment of endometrial cancer is important.
Causes and Risk Factors for Endometrial Cancer
There are no prominent causes that can state how endometrial cancer comes into existence. However, doctors admit that genetic issues may give rise to multiplication of harmful cells in patient’s uterus. The following points elaborate main risk factors for endometrial cancer.
- Hormonal Issues – Changes in estrogen and progesterone hormones in women considerably increase the chances of endometrial cancer.
- Menstruation Time Interval – Women who begin menstruation in early age, as well as women who undergo menopause after an age that is beyond normal, have a greater likelihood of getting this disease.
- No Pregnancy – Women who do not undergo pregnancy even once in their lives are at a high risk of getting this disease.
- Age Factor and Obesity – Older women who are overweight and have already undergone menopause may get endometrial cancer in future.
- Medical Status – Women who have had endometrial polyps disease or have a family history of cancer such as cancer of breast and colon cancer are at greater risk of developing endometrial cancer.
Women who are at higher risk of developing endometrial cancer must indulge in regular health checkups for ensuring their fitness levels.
Signs and Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer
Patients with an underlying endometrial cancer may experience the following signs and symptoms. They should not take these warning signs lightly and seek medical assistance as early as possible.
- Vaginal Problems – Abnormal bleeding from vagina, especially after menopause is the most prominent symptom of endometrial cancer.
- Heavy Bleeding – Heavy bleeding during periods even when one have crossed the age of 40 could be a potential sign of endometrial cancer. Women suffering from such symptoms should visit a doctor without any delay.
- Unusual Discharge – Unusual blood-tinged or brownish colored discharge from vagina may indicate serious health problem including endometrial cancer.
- Pain in Pelvic Region – Women experiencing pain around their pelvic region or in their abdominal area especially at the times of physical intercourse must stay careful and consult a well-qualified doctor for a precise diagnosis.
Diagnosing Endometrial Cancer
Patients struggling with above-mentioned signs and symptoms must search for a qualified and well-experienced cancer specialist or oncologist. It will significantly improve the chances of desired outcomes on the completion of treatment. During the initial consultation, doctors may ask patients to give details about their medical history and the unusual symptoms that are bothering them. Based on the given information, doctors may order the given health evaluation tests.
- Pelvic Examination – Doctors may perform a complete pelvic evaluation test in order to check the main problem. They may insert one or two fingers inside patient’s vagina and press their abdomen to sense any kind of underlying abnormality. They may use medical tools such as ‘speculum’ to patient’s open vagina with ease and conduct the test.
- Transvaginal Ultrasound Test – Transvaginal ultrasound test can considerably help doctors to view exact internal condition of patient’s endometrium lining and entire uterus. This type of ultrasound examination uses a sophisticated device called as a ‘transducer’ which helps create real-time and high-resolution pictures of uterus and nearby structures. Doctors make patients comfortable and carefully insert the device in their vagina and carry out the diagnosis.
- Hysteroscopy – Hysteroscopy test is one of the best endometrial cancer evaluation tests. During this test, doctors slowly insert a tool known as ‘hysteroscope’, in patient’s vagina. Hysteroscope has lens on its one side that helps doctor check the internal uterus and cervix region without any discomfort. This test can clearly determine the presence of any type of underlying abnormality.
- Endometrial Biopsy Test – Respective doctors may order endometrial biopsy when other tests do not give satisfactory results. During this test, respective cancer specialist removes a sample of tissue from patient’s uterus and cervix lining with the help of thin long needles. This sample is stored and sent to a medical laboratory for identification of underlying problem.
- Dilation and Curettage (D and C) Test – This examination is performed when biopsy fails to deliver required results. During this test, doctors directly scrape significant amount of sample of tissues from patient’s uterus lining and inspect it thoroughly under a microscope.
There are various endometrial cancer treatment options. Doctors will choose the best out of it depending on patient’s diagnosis reports, stage of cancer, and their overall health. They may ask patients to quit smoking, follow a special diet as well as some medicines prior undergoing their treatment for increasing possibility of positive results.
Stages of Endometrial Cancer
The following points describe four main stages of endometrial cancer. Chances of survival of patients are highest in stage 1 and decrease considerably as the stage advances.
- Stage 1 – This is the primary stage of endometrial cancer which appears when cancerous cells begin to grow in patient’s uterus.
- Stage 2 – This stage occurs when harmful cancerous cells begin to adversely affect uterus as well as cervix of patients.
- Stage 3 – This is an advanced endometrial cancer stage which comes in existence when endometrial cancer cells spread beyond uterus area including pelvic lymph nodes.
- Stage 4 – This is a fatal stage which occurs when endometrial cancer cells spread to rectum, bladder and other nearby body organs of patients.
Endometrial Cancer Treatment Options
The given points elaborate major endometrial cancer treatment options according to the stage of disease.
- Surgery for Endometrial Cancer – Surgery for endometrial cancer is mainly performed for patients in first stage. Doctors use general anesthesia in order to reduce discomfort during operation. They may remove entire uterus of patients with the help of specialized medical devices. Endometrial cancer surgery is also known as hysterectomy. In some cases, they may remove ovaries as well as fallopian tubes in order to stop the growth and spread of endometrial cancer cells. Such procedure is clinically termed as ‘salpingo-oophorectomy’.
- Radiation Therapy for Endometrial Cancer – Radiation therapy for endometrial cancer involves use of highly powerful radiation such as protons or x-rays for killing the harmful cancer-causing cells. Patients are carefully exposed to a medical device that emits these radiations. Doctors may suggest them to undergo endometrial cancer radiation therapy several times for complete relief. Radiotherapy for endometrial cancer is often combined with surgery in order to treat patients in second stage of cancer.
- Chemotherapy for Endometrial Cancer – Chemotherapy for endometrial cancer involves use of anti-cancer drugs and medicines. These medications are highly effective in destroying cancerous endometrial cells from patient’s uterus. Doctors may ask patients to takes these drugs either orally or inject them directly into patient’s body through their veins. Endometrial cancer Chemotherapy is mainly performed for patients in third stage and final stage of cancer. Sometimes, doctors may combine it with radiation therapy for better results.
- Hormonal Therapy for Endometrial Cancer – It has been observed that progesterone hormone can considerably reduce the multiplication of harmful endometrial cancer cells in patient’s uterus. Whereas, estrogen levels can boost the production of these undesired cells. Therefore, endometrial cancer hormonal therapy involves use of medications that improve progesterone hormone levels in patient’s body and reduce estrogen levels. Hormonal therapy for endometrial cancer is used to treat patients in advanced – third and fourth stages.
Risks and Complications Associated with Endometrial Cancer Treatments
The following are the major risks and complications associated with different endometrial cancer treatment options.
- Surgery for Endometrial Cancer – Heavy bleeding, urinary tract injury, clotting of blood, breathing issues and occurrence of heart problems are some major complications associated with endometrial cancer surgery.
- Radiation Therapy for Endometrial Cancer – Loose bowels, fatigue, diarrhea, and upset stomach are the main complications associated with endometrial cancer radiation therapy.
- Chemotherapy for Endometrial Cancer – Endometrial cancer Chemotherapy may result in problems such as nausea and vomiting sensation, vaginal sores, hair loss, and loss of appetite.
- Hormonal Therapy for Endometrial Cancer – Endometrial cancer Hormonal therapy may lead to complications such as clotting of blood, chances of development of breast cancer, night sweats, hot flashes, and excessive weight gain.
These problems can be handled easily by seeking medical help. Therefore, patients experiencing such complications must contact their doctors immediately without any hesitation.
Recovery following Endometrial Cancer Treatment
Recovery depends on the precise type of approach which is used to treat endometrial cancer. Patients will need to follow each and every guideline of respective oncologists for ensuring best results. Doctors may ask them to eat healthy foods and stop intake of processed food until they recover fully. Patients may feel traumatized and depressed due to unfortunate event of occurrence of endometrial cancer. They may take help of clinical counselors or psychologists to cope up with situation and maintain a positive perspective to heal speedily. Also, they should not forget to visit the hospitals at regular intervals for follow-up care. It will definitely help in maintaining long-term outcomes.
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