Endometrial cancer, cancer of the lining of the uterus, is unfortunately becoming more and more common according to studies from the American Cancer Society. Already the 4th most common type of cancer for women in the US, rates of endometrial cancer have steadily increased in recent years. While this trend may seem disheartening when compared with most other types of cancers that have seen their prevalence decline over the same time frame, there are effective and helpful treatments available. Scheduling a well woman exam with Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett is a good first step in the prevention of endometrial cancer.
Causes and Risk Factors
Doctors aren’t sure exactly what causes endometrial cancer. What they do know is that something occurs to create a genetic mutation in cells that make up the lining of the uterus. This mutation turns healthy cells into abnormal cells, which can accumulate over time and form a tumor.
While doctors have had difficulties pinpointing the precise cause, there is a vast array of risk factors that have been proven to contribute to the risk of developing endometrial cancer including:
Increased Number of Menstrual Cycles
The total number of menstrual cycles over a woman’s life has an effect on her chances of developing endometrial cancer. The more cycles you’ve had, the higher your risk. Women that either started menstrual periods earlier than normal or have gone through menopause later in life are at greater risk
Your risk of endometrial cancer only increases as you age. Endometrial cancer is most common for women who have already undergone menopause.
Overweight or Obesity
Being overweight or obese may indeed contain the most direct risk of any of these factors. Having more fat tissue can increase a woman’s estrogen levels, increasing her chances for endometrial cancer. Obese women are more than three times as likely to develop endometrial cancer as women maintaining a healthy body weight.
Women of certain races are experiencing slightly different rates of endometrial cancer growth. Last year the increase was less than one percent for white women, compared with 1.8% for Hispanic women and 2.5% for African American and Asian women. While all women may be at risk, African American women are especially vulnerable to endometrial cancer and have a considerably higher mortality rate when compared to other female demographics.
Your ovaries produce two primary female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Instabilities in the balance of these hormones cause changes to the inner lining of your uterus. Taking medications like hormone replacement after menopause that contain one of these hormones and not the other can increase your risk of endometrial cancer.
Some common symptoms to look out for include irregular uterine bleeding, pain or soreness in the pelvis or an abnormal, watery or blood-tinged vaginal discharge.
Cancer research and treatments have never been more effective and sophisticated. Even for women who receive a positive diagnosis, the odds of beating cancer and getting back to your normal life have never been better. If you are experiencing any of symptoms of endometrial cancer, do not hesitate to contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett to set up an appointment with our board-certified gynecologists today.