Posted on September 22, 2015

Due to the rise in incidence of gynecologic cancers throughout the world, women are being advised to take charge of their health by checking their body for any unusual signs and symptoms of cancers including uterine cancer. With early detection, gynecologic cancers are often treatable.

During this month of Gynecologic Cancers Awareness, Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Women’s Hospital continues to raise awareness of the most common gynecologic cancers among women and offers advice on early diagnosis and treatment of the cancers. Gynecologic cancers are the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells originating in the female reproductive organs, including the cervix, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina and vulva.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says all women are at risk for gynecologic cancers, and risk increases with age. However, women can lower their risk for certain cancers by receiving the human papilloma virus vaccine and getting screened for the cancers. Uterine cancer, also called endometrial cancer because it forms in the lining of the uterus called the endometrium, is the fourth most common cancer in women in the United States and the most commonly diagnosed gynecologic cancer.

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“When cancer starts in the uterus, it is called uterine cancer. The uterus is the pear-shaped organ in a woman's pelvis (the area below your stomach and in between your hip bones). The uterus, also called the womb, is where the baby grows when a woman is pregnant,” explained Dr Jonathan Herod, Consultant Gynecological Oncologist at the Women’s Hospital. He explained that there is no way to know for sure if a woman will get uterine cancer. “Some women get it without being at high risk.” However, Dr Herod stated that several factors may increase the chance of getting uterine cancer including:

  • Being older than 50;
  • Being obese (having an abnormally high, unhealthy amount of body fat);
  • Taking estrogen by itself (without progesterone) for hormone replacement during menopause;
  • Having had trouble getting pregnant, or having had fewer than five periods in a year before starting menopause;
  • Taking tamoxifen, a drug used to treat certain types of breast cancer; 
  • Having close family members who have had uterine, colon or ovarian cancer.

“Uterine cancer may cause discharge or bleeding that is not normal for you. Bleeding may be abnormal because of how heavy it is or when it happens, such as after you have gone through menopause, between periods, or any other bleeding that is longer or heavier than is normal. Uterine cancer may also cause other symptoms, such as pain or pressure in the pelvis,” said Dr. Herod. He stressed that maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active can help reduce the risk of having uterine cancer, adding that the cancer can be treated in several ways. “Uterine cancer treatment depends on the kind of cancer and how far it has spread. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or radiation.

He advised women showing signs and symptoms of uterine cancer, particularly any vaginal bleeding occurring after menopause, to seek prompt professional medical help from their physicians. Under a new cancer strategy policy in HMC, a well-established cancer patient pathway ensures that all suspicious cases are referred, within 48 hours, to cancer clinics in either the Women’s Hospital or National Center for Cancer Care and Research.