Definition - What is Endometrial Cancer?
Endometrial cancer, medically called endometrial cancer, is a degeneration of the cells of the uterine lining.
This type of tumor is the most common tumor of the female genital organs and the fourth most common tumor in women. Endometrial cancer mainly occurs between the ages of 60 and 70. Every year around 15 per 100,000 women in Germany fall ill.
Regular gynecological check-ups are important in order to detect and treat such a tumor at an early stage.
The endometrial cancer should not be confused with the cervical cancer, which differs in terms of diagnosis and therapy.
Also read: Uterine cancer
The exact causes of endometrial cancer have not yet been sufficiently clarified. An interplay of various risk factors is suspected.
These include high levels of estrogen. The estrogen takes care of the structure of the uterine lining. During the menopause, there can be an excess of estrogen and this can lead to the degeneration of the cells.
Read more on the subject at: estrogen
Other risk factors are obesity, diabetes or a genetic predisposition to cancer of the uterine lining. Also high blood pressure, a late onset of menopause (menopause) or childlessness increase the risk of this type of cancer.
Even during or after breast cancer therapy with the drug Tamoxifen there is an increased risk of developing uterine lining cancer.
Most women present to the gynecologist because of vaginal bleeding. For diagnosis, a vaginal examination is carried out to assess the mucous membrane. A transvaginal ultrasound (through the woman's vagina) can also provide information about changes in the uterine lining.
For a reliable diagnosis, an endoscopy is carried out with a scraping. The cell samples obtained here can be examined under the microscope.
If the diagnosis is reliable, you should continue to search for existing metastases. For this purpose, an x-ray of the lungs, an ultrasound of the abdomen and, if necessary, an MRI or CT examination should be carried out.
Endometrial cancer manifests itself in the early stages as vaginal bleeding. These occur outside of the menstrual period in women who are still before menopause.
There may also be bloody or purulent discharge from the vagina.
Read more on the subject at: Bleeding after menopause
In later stages of the disease there may be pain in the lower abdomen or back. However, most of the time, endometrial cancer is detected at an early stage.
Treatment / therapy
The treatment of choice for endometrial cancer consists of radical surgery. The entire uterus, including the ovaries and the lymph nodes of the pelvis, is removed. Depending on the stage at which the tumor was discovered, radiation can be carried out after the operation to destroy the last remaining tumor.
Read more on the subject at: Hysterectomy
In advanced stages with distant metastases, chemotherapy can also be administered.
If neither surgery nor radiation is an option, hormone therapy with gestagens (luteal hormones) in tablet form can be carried out. This does not achieve a cure, but can slow the progression of the disease and the growth of the tumor.
Duration and forecast
With an early diagnosis and start of therapy, the prognosis is good. If the tumor is at an advanced stage when the diagnosis is made or if it has already spread to other organs, the prognosis is significantly worse.
The five-year survival rate for endometrial cancer is 80%, so after 5 years 80% of women with the disease are still alive. The prognosis depends mainly on the stage at which the disease was recognized, but also on the patient's general health.
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