Uterine Cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. If caught early, treatment is most often successful. Yet many women aren’t aware of uterine cancer, and often don’t recognize its symptoms, says Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers gynecologic oncologist Daniel Donato, MD.
What are the Symptoms of Uterine Cancer?
One of the most common, and easily recognized, symptoms is unusual bleeding, or in the case of post-menopausal women, any bleeding at all, Donato says.
“If you have been through menopause and you start bleeding again, that is not normal. It needs to be checked out,” Donato says.
Other symptoms of uterine cancer include:
- Ongoing pelvic pain
- Unusual discharge
Any cancer diagnosis can be scary, but when the disease is found early, uterine cancer has a 90 percent cure rate. “Detected early, uterine cancer treatment is successful a majority of the time,” Dr. Donato says.
For many patients, treatment means surgical removal of the uterus, but if caught early, chemotherapy and radiation are not usually necessary. The surgery is typically done on an outpatient basis. “And 99 percent of women can go home the same day,” Dr. Donato says.
Each year, about 60,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with uterine cancer, the majority of them over age 50. The average age at diagnosis is 60, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (OSCO).
What are Risk Factors for Uterine Cancer?
In addition to age, other risk factors for uterine cancer include:
- A history of tamoxifen treatment for breast cancer
- Never having been pregnant
- A history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Radiation in the pelvic area to treat other cancers
- A history of menopausal hormone therapy with estrogen alone (without progesterone)
When the cancer is diagnosed in later stages, women often say they had symptoms, including bleeding after menopause, but didn’t realize that could indicate a serious concern, Dr. Donato says.
The bottom line, Dr. Donato says: If something doesn’t seem right, or if you experience any bleeding after menopause, get it checked out.