By Dr V.S.N Rao
Cancer rates in India are on the rise, with some types linked to lifestyle choices. Among them is uterine cancer, which has traditionally been less common in India than in Western countries. However, the trend is changing due to factors such as urbanization, a rise in metabolic disorders, shifts in lifestyle patterns, and a delay in childbirth. This has led to an increase in the incidence of uterine cancer, affecting not only postmenopausal women but also younger women.
Gynaecological cancers, including uterine cancer, are a significant public health concern as they are prevalent among women, especially in developing countries like India, where limited cancer awareness, varying pathology, and inadequate screening facilities result in women presenting at advanced stages, leading to unfavourable prognosis and clinical outcomes.
What Is Uterine Cancer And What Are The Risk Factors
Uterine cancer is a kind of cancer that starts in the womb or uterus, called the endometrium. It is the most common type of cancer that affects the female reproductive system. While the exact cause of uterine cancer is unknown, but certain factors may increase a woman’s risk, such as:
1. Age: The risk of uterine cancer increases as women get older, with most cases occurring in women over age 50.
2. Hormonal imbalances: Women with higher estrogen levels or lower progesterone levels may have a higher risk of developing uterine cancer.
3. Obesity: Women who are obese have a higher risk of developing uterine cancer, likely due to the increased estrogen levels in their bodies.
4. Family History: For women with a family history of uterine or colon cancer may be at a higher risk of developing the disease.
Uterine Cancer: 5 Key Symptoms
1. Vaginal bleeding: The most common early symptom of uterine cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, particularly bleeding between periods or after menopause. Other early symptoms may include:
2. Vaginal discharge: Women with uterine cancer may experience a watery or bloody discharge from the vagina, which may have a foul odour.
3. Pelvic pain or pressure: Women with uterine cancer may experience pain or pressure in the abdomen, pelvis, or lower back.
4. Pain during intercourse: Women with uterine cancer may experience pain during sexual intercourse.
5. Changes in bowel or bladder habits: Women with uterine cancer may experience changes in their bowel or bladder habits, such as constipation or frequent urination.
What should you do?
Gynaecological exams are an important part of a woman’s overall health care and should be a routine practice. These exams are designed to detect any potential problems with the reproductive organs and can help to identify conditions like uterine cancer, among many other underlying health concerns.
Treatment For Uterine Cancer
Treatment for uterine cancer is usually with surgery to remove the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Another option is radiation therapy. Drug treatments for endometrial cancer include chemotherapy with powerful drugs and hormone therapy to block hormones that cancer cells rely on. Other options might be targeted therapy with drugs that attack specific weaknesses in the cancer cells and immunotherapy to help your immune system fight cancer. There are various types of treatments that can be best decided with an oncologist best suited for the patient.
How To Prevent Uterine Cancer
There’s no definite way to prevent endometrial cancer. However, there are things one can do that may help lower the risk of developing this disease. Most of them are based on reversing risk factors. A few habits one can change include maintaining a healthy weight. Women who are overweight have a higher risk of developing uterine cancer as time passes, hence keeping a check on one’s weight is crucial.
Being physically active is important as higher levels of physical activity lower the risk of uterine cancer. Also keep getting regular check-ups with your doctor. It is also important to note that other conditions may also cause the symptoms listed, and not all women with uterine cancer will experience symptoms in the early stages of the disease. That is why it is extremely important to have regular gynaecological exams and report any unusual symptoms to your doctor.
(Disclaimer: Dr V.S.N Rao is the Chief Radiation Oncologist & Director Medical Services, HCG Cance Centre, Vijayawada. The views expressed in the article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Zee News.)