Dr. Sanket Kotne, Consultant Medical Oncologist, HCG Cancer Centre Vizag
Uterine cancer is the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the female reproductive system. This kind of cancer occurs when the DNA in the uterine cells mutate disabling the functions controlling cell division and growth. Uterine cancer, like most other forms of cancer, can be completely cured when diagnosed early. For early detection, it is essential to be aware of the risk factors of uterine cancer.
Risk factors of uterine cancer
Age: The risk of uterine cancer increases with increasing age. It is mostly seen among those who are 50+.
Obesity: Overweight or obesity amps up uterine cancer risk. Those who are overweight produces extra estrogen, a sex hormone that enhances the risk of uterine cancer.
Race: White skinned women are at a higher chance to get uterine cancer compared to women of other races and ethnicities. Also, those who are dark-skinned have a greater risk of getting diagnosed with advanced and aggressive uterine cancers.
Genetics: Uterine cancer may run in families. It can be commonly seen in families where colon cancer is hereditary. Also, those with Lynch Syndrome, also known as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer.
Type 2 Diabetes: Those with Type 2 Diabetes are more prone to get uterine cancer as Diabetes is often associated with obesity which is a potential risk factor for uterine cancer.
Other cancers: Certain cancers like breast, colon and ovarian cancer increase the risk of uterine cancer. Women who are affected with these cancers are likely to get uterine cancer as well.
Certain drugs: Those who take the drug tamoxifen for reducing breast cancer risk or preventing breast cancer recurrence can increase the risk of uterine cancer,but anyone who is prescribed tamoxifen should have a conversation with their doctor about their personal benefits and risks.
Radiation therapy: Those who have had radiation therapy earlier for treating another cancer in the pelvic area – the lower part of the abdomen between the hip bones, are more prone to getting uterine cancer.
Fat-rich diet: Those who consume a diet rich in animal fat may have a greater chance of getting uterine cancer.
Oestrogen: Imbalance of hormone oestrogen or extended exposure to this hormone may also result in increased uterine cancer risk. Early onset of menstruation or delayed menopause, taking hormone replacement therapy after menopause and never being pregnant can increase uterine cancer risk.
Signs of uterine cancer
Some of the early symptoms of uterine cancer are:
- ● Bloody or watery discharge, which might have a bad smell.
- ● Bleeding between periods or after menopause.
- ● Discomfort or pain in the abdomen.
- ● Difficulty urinating or pain when using the toilet.
- ● Pain during intercourse.
Treating uterine cancer
Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy are the most common ways of treating uterine cancer. While uterine cancer is completely treatable and curable when detected at the right time, prevention is always better than cure.
Preventing uterine cancer
These are the various ways of preventing uterine cancer:
- ● Usage of a progestin-secreting intrauterine device as a form of birth control.
- ● Consulting the doctor and being aware of the uterine cancer risk associated with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) before starting it. HRT when done with oestrogen alone poses a greater risk of uterine cancer compared to when done in combination with progesterone as that may lower uterine cancer risk. However, combined HRT is associated with breast cancer risk.
- ● Having a healthy weight and maintaining a body mass index (BMI) less than 25.
- ● Cautious and efficient disease management of Diabetes including regular monitoring of blood glucose levels can help reduce uterine cancer risk.
- ● Prolonged consumption of contraceptive pills is found to reduce uterine cancer risk but can amp up risk of getting other kinds of cancer. It is essential to consult with a doctor before starting on contraceptive pills.
Knowing the risk factors of uterine cancer and the various ways of preventing it can play an effective role in keeping uterine cancer at bay or lowering the risk of getting it. One can consult with the expert doctors to know more about uterine cancer.
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