The uterus, also known as the womb, is a pear shaped small organ which is housed in the pelvis, comprising the cervix, neck of uterus and its main body. A fertilized egg attaches itself in the uterus to prepare for its developmental stages.
The two types of uterus cancer is the cervical or from its neck, and endometrial which affects the main corpus of the uterus. The cells which cover the cervix generally undergo severe to mild changes which are known as hyperplasia prior to their cancerous growth.
Pre cancerous conditions do not usually cause cancer. However, women facing such conditions should be instantly treated and tested regularly.
The initial stage of uterine cancer is known as carcinoma in situ (or cancer which is confined to its site of growth).
If it is not discovered and treated appropriately, these cells will penetrate into the deeper levels of the uterus and spread to associated zones like the urinary bladder, rectum or vagina before metastasizing to other areas of the body.
Uterus Cancer Risk Factors
Women experiencing vaginal discharge or unusual bleeding between their periods run a higher risk of contracting uterine cancer. The cancer can also strike women who have had frequent sex before 20 or multiple partners and those who have poor genital hygiene.
The highest incidences of uterus cancer have been found among women aged between 40 and 49. Usually, the cases of endometrial cancer are diagnosed in women from 50 to 64 years. It hardly affects women who are less than 40.
Women who are highly susceptible to uterine cancer are those with unusual discharge or bleeding after or during menopause, or with late menopause after 55 years, those who are diabetic, have a high blood pressure and suffer from obesity.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
The early warning signs of cervical cancer include sporadic bleeding or discharge, bleeding between menstruations, excessive bleeding during periods and post menopause. If you experience any of these signs, you should report it immediately to your doctor.
Diagnosis for cancer of the cervix through the Pap test is immensely accurate in the initial stage. It may even display the cell changes which can develop into cancer. The test takes a few minutes and is painless and can be conducted in the clinic.
It examines the cells which are usually shed from the uterine lining and those from the cervical surface on a stick or cotton swab. In case of abnormality, other diagnostic techniques may include:
- Colposcopy: Visual examination of the vagina and cervix through a colposcope or magnifying instrument for checking abnormality of tissues.
- Biopsy: Surgical removal of a tissue from the suspected region for microscopic testing. This can positively conclude whether cancer cells are present.
- Conization: This is a surgical process of eliminating a cone shaped tissue specimen from the cervix. The sample thus collected is larger than what is collected for biopsy.
A Pap test is not effective in determining the presence of this kind of uterus cancer. Endometrial cancer can be successfully detected with:
- D&C or Dilation and Curettage: This is the removal of sample tissues from the uterus body using a scraping technique by anesthetizing the patient. The sample tissues are studied microscopically for any cell related changes which might indicate cancer.
- Aspiration Curettage: It offers sample tissues from the inner lining of the uterus using suction by a small device that is inserted into the cervix. The painless process can take place in the physician’s office. The sample tissues are microscopically studied for any abnormality.
Uterus Cancer Treatment
Uterine cancer is usually treated through radiation or surgery. In ore cancerous stages, the cervical changes can be treated with cryotherapy of tissue destruction using extreme coldness or electrocoagulation which is used with extreme heat. The latter is evident in the very early stages, making it possible to maintain childbearing functions. Another option is treatment through the hormone progesterone.
- Surgery: This is ideal when uterine cancer has not spread beyond the original site. All malignant tissue is removed through hysterectomy.
- Radiation: Here, the cancer is bombarded with rays to destroy or devastate the cancer cells without affecting the surrounding areas.
After surgery, radiation therapy may be used to kill the cells causing uterus cancer which could not be eliminated through surgery.