Endometrial cancer also called as ‘Uterine Cancer’ is cancer caused in the inner cavity of the uterus called ‘endometrium.’ The uterus is mainly divided into two parts i.e. the cervix which is connected to the vagina and the upper body or corpus. When we talk about endometrial cancer, we mainly talk about the upper body of the uterus.
The endometrium is the spongy inner layer of the upper body of the uterus. When the cells of this layer begin to grow at an abnormal malignant rate, it causes endometrial cancer. But, one must remember that not all tumors are cancerous.
Endometrial cancer is mainly caused due to obesity or high level of oestrogen hormone produced in the lining of the uterus. It is mainly diagnosed in a woman after she undergoes menopause. However, it can also occur at other stages of life too.
What are the Types of Endometrial Cancer?
Talking about uterine cancer, mainly there are two types of uterine cancer namely
Uterine sarcomas are the cancerous cells that are formed in the outer muscle layer of the uterus while endometrial carcinomas are the cells that are formed in the inner lining of the uterus.
There are various types of endometrial carcinoma namely:
- Endometrioid adenocarcinoma: The most common type of endometrial carcinoma is the adenocarcinoma. In this type of cancer, cells that look quite similar to the inner lining of the organ are formed in glands. These types of cells can be glandular or flat cells i.e. squamous cells.
- Clear cell adenocarcinoma: This is a very rare type of cancer which is mainly caused due to the exposure to a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES). This cancer has a high probability of recurrence.
- Serous adenocarcinoma: These cancerous cells have the tendency to spread to the lymph nodes as well as to other parts of the body.
- Adenosquamous carcinoma: This type of cancer is caused when both the glandular cells, as well as the flat squamous cells, are both malignant i.e. cancerous.
This classification is based on the cancerous cells present in the endometrium. Another classification of endometrial cancer based on its cause is as follows:
- Type I Endometrial Cancer: These types of cancers are caused due to an excess of oestrogen in the uterus. This causes an abnormal growth of cells in the lining of the corpus.
- Type II Endometrial Cancer: The exact cause of this type of cancer is not exactly known, but doctors tend to treat such type of cancers more aggressively as they have higher risk factors. These cancerous cells are mostly undifferentiated and look very different from the normal cells in the lining of the uterus.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer?
There are various symptoms of endometrial cancer that helps one in determining whether or not to go for further diagnosis. These symptoms of Endometrial Cancer are:
- Vaginal bleeding apart from menstruation and other types of discharge.
- Shooting pains in the pelvic region.
- Difficulty and pain while urinating
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
- Experiencing pain during sexual intercourse
If one sees any of these signs and symptoms, it is advisable to consult immediately a doctor for a diagnosis.
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How is Endometrial Cancer diagnosed?
There are various procedures to diagnose this cancer. These procedures include:
- Pelvic Exam: In this procedure, the outer elements of the genitals are examined including uterus, bladder, vagina and the rectum.
- Pap Test: In this test, a sample of cells is collected from the cervix and upper body to test them for cancerous cells.
- Ultrasound: Here, an ultrasound of the uterus is done to check whether the endometrium is thicker than usual or not. If the endometrium is too thick, it is an indication of endometrium cancer.
- Biopsy: A small surgery called dilation and curettage is carried out wherein a layer of tissue is removed from the uterine lining to check it for cancerous cells.
Thus, these are the ways to diagnose endometrial cancer. Once if it is positively diagnosed that the patient has endometrial cancer, the spread of the cancer is diagnosed with the help of a computerized tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan or an MRI or a Cystoscopy and proctoscopy to stage cancer.
What is the Treatment for Endometrial Cancer?
The treatment of this cancer depends on the tendency and the intensity of the cancerous cells, i.e. how much they have spread on to the other parts of the body based on the stages of this cancer.
There are mainly four stages of endometrial cancer:
- Stage I: The cancerous cells are present only in the corpus i.e. the body of the uterus and not in the cervix.
- Stage II: In the second stage, the cancerous cells have spread on the cervix.
- Stage III: In this stage, the cancerous cells spread to the outside of the uterus onto to the lymph nodes in the pelvic region.
- Stage IV: This is a fatal stage of cancer where in the cancer spreads to the most distant parts of the body.
Based on these stages, there are mainly four methods of treatment:
- Radiation Therapy: The process involves killing of cancer cells from the body using powerful energy beams. This can be done either externally using external beam radiation or internally by inserting a device filled with radiation.
- Hormonal Therapy: This form of treatment mainly works when cancer has spread beyond the uterus. It involves medications to either increase the level of progesterone hormone or decrease the amount of estrogen hormone. A change in hormone level of both the hormones combats the growth of cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: The form of treatment uses chemicals either orally or intravenously to kill cancer cells in the body.
- Surgery: This procedure is done mainly to remove the uterus so that the main cause of cancer is removed from the body and the chances of spreading the cancer cells become negligible.
It is always advisable to get a second opinion before starting treatment.
Low-cost Treatment for Endometrial Cancer in India
The entire process of diagnosis and treatment of endometrial cancer is quite complex and tedious and can be a bit difficult from mental as well as financial aspect for a patient.
India is one of the leading countries to provide excellent treatment for Endometrial Cancer at comparatively lower cost. There is another concept called medical tourism and one such name is Travcure medical tourism, a tourism company providing different treatments for this cancer to people all around the world at the least possible cost. The company has links to the most qualified doctors providing treatments in best hospitals of India. With these links, Travcure ensure that all its patients get through a safe and successful treatment for endometrial cancer so as to give them a satisfied life further.