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Uterine Cancer

Two types of uterine cancer are endometrial cancer (cancer that begins in cells lining the uterus) and uterine sarcoma (a rare cancer that begins in muscle or other tissues in the uterus). No one knows the exact causes of uterine cancer however; there are certain risk factors that make it more likely for one woman to get the disease over another. Risk factors include age, endometrial hyperplasia, hormone replacement therapy, obesity, tamoxifen use, race, and colorectal cancer.

Uterine cancer usually occurs after menopause, but it may also occur around the time menopause begins. Some of the symptoms seen with uterine cancer are unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge, difficult or painful urination, pain during intercourse, and pain in the pelvic area. If a woman has symptoms that may suggest uterine cancer her doctor may check lab and urine tests and do a pelvic exam, pap test, transvaginal ultrasound, and a biopsy to remove tissue from the uterine lining to confirm diagnosis.

Once diagnosis is determined the doctor needs to know the extent or stage of the disease to plan the best treatment. Staging is a careful attempt to find out whether the cancer has spread, and if so to what parts of the body. Additional tests to determine stage may be blood and urine tests, x-rays, CT scan, ultrasound test, MRI, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. In most cases, the most reliable way to stage uterine cancer is to remove the uterus so the pathologist can examine it for any signs of cancer. Once staging is complete treatment options are gone over with you. Treatment options consist of surgery, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy.

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