What is Uterine Cancer?

By  , Expert Content
Feb 20, 2012

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What is Uterine CancerUterine cancer is cancer of the uterus or womb. It is an important part of the female reproductive tract. Uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ in the pelvis of women where a baby grows. There are two layers of tissues in wall of the uterus.


  • Inner layer: Endometrium forms the inner layer (lining) of the uterus. In women of childbearing age, the lining undergoes changes each month under the influence of female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) to prepare for pregnancy. If the ovum is not fertilised and pregnancy does not occur, the thick, bloody lining of endometrium flows out of the body. This flow is the menstrual period.
  • Outer layer: Muscle tissue or myometrium forms the outer layer of muscle tissue.


Several different types of cancer can develop in the uterus. Endometrial cancer develops in the lining (endometrium) of the uterus and it is the commonest type of uterine cancer. Hence, endometrial cancer is sometimes also known as uterine cancer. Some other types of cancer can also form in the uterus, however, they occur infrequently.


How does Cancer Develop


In a healthy organ, cells grow and divide in an orderly way to form new cells as the body needs them. In a nutshell, the old cells die, and are replaced by cells. However, when the cells, (the building blocks that make up tissues) do not divide and grow in an orderly manner a cancer is formed. More cells are formed without any requirement and the extra cells form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumour. Some types of cancer are benign whereas others can be malignant. Malignant cancer can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. Like other types of cancer uterine cancers can be benign or malignant.


Endometrial cancer


Most cases of endometrial cancer are often detected at an early stage as the symptom abnormal vaginal bleeding occurs at an early stage which prompts a woman to consult her doctor. In early stages of the cancer, hysterectomy (removing the uterus surgically) is often curative (it eliminates the cancer). Other common symptoms of uterine cancer include unusual vaginal discharge, problems with urinating, pelvic pain and pain during intercourse.

In most women, uterine cancer begins after menopause. There are several treatment options for uterine cancer. Treatment is recommended based on different factors such as overall health, how advanced the cancer is and whether hormones affect its growth. Hysterectomy, which is surgery to remove the uterus, is mostly done for uterine cancer. Other treatment options include hormone therapy, chemotherapy and radiation. Your doctor will examine you, do tests and consider other factors which can influence treatment and then recommend the best possible option.


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