It’s the fourth most common cancer for women in the U.S., but doctors say 80 percent of the time endometrial cancer is caught in stage one.
Dr. Fadi Abu Shahin, a gynecologic oncologist on the medical staff of Lee Health, says endometrial cancer can be caused by age, genetics, or medication. “Endometrial cancer is cancer of the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus on the inside. The most common is what we call unopposed estrogen where the woman’s body is producing estrogen only and not producing progesterone to counter act the effects of estrogen in the uterus.”
That can lead to overgrowth of the lining of the uterus and can become cancerous over time. Women who are at risk for endometrial cancer may have a genetic predisposition or polycystic ovarian syndrome, where they don’t ovulate regularly. In both cases doctors may prescribe birth control or hormone therapy as a preventative. “The best treatment for those women is to put them on birth control pills or some form of hormonal therapy to prevent and protect the uterus from exposure to estrogen,” said Dr. Abu Shahin.
There’s no regular screening for endometrial cancer, but doctors say if women experience symptoms they need to call their physician. “In women after menopause any bleeding is abnormal. In women before menopause any irregularity in their periods or bleeding outside their period is abnormal,” said Dr. Abu Shahin.
Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in women. If women are at risk, doctors may use genetic screening, biopsies, or ultrasounds to look for precancerous changes in the uterus. “70 to 80 percent of all women with endometrial cancer are diagnosed at stage one, which means the cancer was contained to the uterus, which means it’s highly curable,” said Dr. Abu Shahin.
Patients may undergo a hysterectomy or choose to have only the high risk lymph nodes removed in a shorter, less invasive procedure.
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