An overview of endometrial cancer

Endometrial cancer, also known as endometrial carcinoma or uterine cancer, is a condition that approximately 66,000 individuals are diagnosed with annually, and instances rise roughly 2% in the United States each year. Because it is often caught early, a person’s prognosis is typically good — but it is still a disheartening diagnosis that significantly impacts the lives of those who experience it.

For this blog, we will provide an overview of endometrial cancer, including what it is, which factors increase a person’s risk levels, what the symptoms are, and how it is treated. Read on to learn more.

What is endometrial cancer?

The term endometrium refers to the inner layer of the uterine lining. In the instance of endometrial cancer, the most common type of cancer that affects the uterus, the cells that comprise this lining begin growing uncontrollably. While there are several types of endometrial cancer, around 80% are classified as adenocarcinomas.

Risk factors for endometrial cancer

It is not known what causes endometrial cancer, but several risk factors have been identified. These include sudden changes in hormone levels, such as those that occur when women experience diabetes, obesity, or irregular ovulation patterns. As women age their risk also increases, particularly for those who have experienced more menstrual cycles. It also appears to be more prevalent in women who have experienced no pregnancies, women who have undergone certain types of breast cancer treatment, and women who have a history of Lynch syndrome in their families. It is also important to note that in spite of the fact that White women are at a slightly higher risk for endometrial cancer, Black women are twice as likely to die due to the condition — which may indicate that there are treatment and detection disparities that should be addressed.

Endometrial cancer symptoms

Because endometrial cancer often causes symptoms, it can be caught and treated at earlier stages than many other types of cancers. Research has found that 90% of women with endometrial cancer experience abnormal vaginal bleeding outside of their menstrual cycle. Other common symptoms include painful urination or intercourse, and a mass or lump in the lower abdominal region.

Endometrial cancer treatment

The treatment plan for endometrial cancer depends on a few factors, including how advanced the cancer is, how the cells look under a microscope, and whether the cancer is responsive to progesterone. Surgery is the most common line of treatment for endometrial cancer, as it allows doctors to remove cancerous cells before they have a chance to spread. This will generally be followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy to thwart any potential cancer cells that remain. Hormone therapy and targeted therapy can also be used in some scenarios, as these provide options for more localized treatment.

In addition to existing treatments, there are new treatments for endometrial cancer being studied in clinical trials every day. Participants in these clinical trials receive specialized care from condition experts and may get access to potentially life-saving treatments before they are available to the public. To learn more about endometrial cancer clinical trials, click the button below to get started.