Uterine cancer affects the womb or uterus. There are two types of uterine cancer: endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. Endometrial cancer affects the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus. It is much more common, and the term is often used interchangeably with uterine cancer. Uterine sarcoma develops in the uterus's muscle wall and is very rare.
The signs that could indicate either of these uterine cancers are the same.
Menopause is a result of reproductive hormones dropping, which stops monthly periods. This process can take years, with periods first getting irregular and sporadic before completely stopping. Menopause begins when a woman has not had a period for a full year.
Any bleeding after menopause is considered abnormal, whether it is heavy bleeding or spotting. This type of bleeding is usually due to less serioues issues, but in 10 percent of cases, it is a sign of uterine cancer.
Uterine cancer can also cause unusual bleeding in women who still get monthly periods. Any abnormal bleeding can be a sign of uterine cancer, whether it is bleeding or spotting between periods or periods that are heavier than usual.
Other conditions can also cause abnormal bleeding, so the only way to be sure is to see your doctor.
Any unusual vaginal discharge may be a sign of uterine cancer, even if it is not bloody. Any unusual discharge not related to a normal menstrual cycle can be a symptom of endometrial cancer, the most common form of uterine cancer.
Even clear or thin white discharge can be a symptom of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women.
Though many conditions and issues can cause pelvic pain, lower abdominal pain and pelvic discomfort could be symptoms of uterine cancer. The type of pain can vary, and it does not have to be extreme. For some people, it feels like vague abdominal pain while others may experience more severe cramping.
The pain may appear anytime, but it is particularly common during sexual intercourse and may grow more severe as cancer progresses.
Difficult or painful urination can also be a symptom of uterine cancer. If the tumor has grown so large that it is pressing on the bladder or cancer has spread to the bladder, it could block the urethra, causing pain or difficulty passing urine. In some cases, people may experience loss of bladder control.
As with many of these symptoms, the cause could be one of countless issues ranging widely in severity, so always see your doctor if you notice a troubling symptom.
If uterine cancer spreads to other parts of the abdomen, it could cause a change in bowel habits. This can mean many things. Some people may be constipated while others have diarrhea.
Changes in the size of stools, having to go more often, or experiencing urgency may also be signs of advanced uterine cancer.
Lack of appetite may also be a sign of uterine cancer, especially if it occurs with other symptoms. The cause is generally due to fullness or pain in the abdomen, which makes eating less desirable.
Many other factors may cause hunger-related issues in people with cancer, including hormones and neurotransmitters.
Unintentional weight loss or weight loss without a known reason can be a sign of advanced uterine cancer. It occurs secondary to a loss of appetite and is a sign that the cancer had spread to other organs.
Many serious conditions can cause unintentional weight loss, so it is essential to see a doctor if this occurs.
A doctor may find other symptoms of uterine cancer. The uterus usually remains small with endometrial cancer, so the doctor may not be able to feel it in the abdomen, but uterine sarcoma often causes it to become tender and enlarged.
People with uterine sarcoma may also have ascites as one of the initial symptoms. This collection of fluid in the abdomen is usually a sign of advanced or recurring cancer.
Anyone who experiences these symptoms should take them seriously, especially people who have risk factors for uterine cancer, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, PCOS, a family history of endometrial cancer, taking only estrogen hormone replacement without progesterone after menopause, and age, as menopausal women are more likely to develop it.
Another risk factor is increased estrogen exposure, which may be caused by starting menstruation at an early age, never having children, or late menopause.
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