What is Endometrial Cancer?
Endometrial cancer is sometimes called uterine cancer because it begins in the layer of cells that form the lining (endometrium) of the uterus, which is a pear-shaped pelvic organ in women where fetal development occurs. Due to abnormal vaginal bleeding, endometrial cancer is often detected early.
Stages of Endometrial Cancer
Cancer is in the endometrium only or less than halfway through the myometrium (muscle layer of the uterus).
Cancer has spread halfway or more into the myometrium.
In Stage II, cancer has spread into connective tissue of the cervix, but has not spread outside the uterus.
Cancer has spread to the outer layer of the uterus and/or to the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and ligaments of the uterus.
Cancer has spread to the vagina and/or to the parametrium (connective tissue and fat around the uterus).
Cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis and/or around the aorta (largest artery in the body, which carries blood away from the heart).
Cancer has spread to the bladder and/or bowel wall.
Cancer has spread to other parts of the body beyond the pelvis, including the abdomen and/or lymph nodes in the groin.
*Source: National Cancer Institute, August 17, 2018
Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we urge you to speak to your provider as soon as possible for further examination.
- Bleeding between periods
- Pelvic Pain
- Bloody, watery, abnormal vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
How to Diagnose Endometrial Cancer
A patient with endometrial cancer symptoms may have one or more of the following procedures to determine your diagnosis
A sample of tissue is removed for examination and to determine a diagnosis.
COMPUTERIZED TOMOGRAPHY (CT)
combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles around your body and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images (slices) of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues inside your body. CT scan images provide more-detailed information than plain X-rays do.
Cystoscopy is done using a thin, hollow, lighted instrument called a cystoscope. Your doctor will insert the cystoscope into your urethra and slowly move it into your bladder. Small surgical instruments can be inserted through the cystoscope to remove samples of tissue for a biopsy, stones, or small growths.
Firefly Technology is advanced software used during surgical procedures for endometrial cancer patients to identify the sentinel left node (main lymph node) that drains the uterus. This process helps diagnose more patients with microscopic metastasis to the nodes than typically would be done without the Firefly technology.
(firefly technology continued) This digital imaging process involves staining the nodes with a dye called lndocyanine Green which lights up the nodes with a green hue, allowing our surgeons to trace and stage those specific lymph nodes, which more often results in positive tests.
The uterus, vagina, bladder, and the rectum are examined by a physician for lumps and abnormal sizes.
SENTINEL LYMPH NODE BIOPSY
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy is performed to determine if cancer cells have spread to your lymph nodes. This minimally invasive procedure removes the main (sentinel) lymph node to test for cancer.
Surgery: can be necessary if your doctor can’t be certain of your diagnosis until you undergo surgery to have tissue removed and tested for signs of cancer.
Transvaginal ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to form images of the endometrium, which will allow the doctors to make a definite diagnosis.
Types of Endometrial Cancer Treatments
Your endometrial cancer treatment plan will vary depending on multiple factors, including but not limited to your stage of diagnosis, as well as the location of your cancer. Your dedicated team of cancer experts will discuss your treatment options and plan with you, allowing you and your loved ones to consider all possible treatment options for your diagnosis. Potential treatment options for your diagnosis include:
A drug therapy designed to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells, chemotherapy may be used with radiation therapy to treat cervical cancer.
This therapy involves the use of drugs or surgical procedures to suppress the production of or inhibit the effects of a hormone.
A surgical procedure that includes the removal of all or parts of the affected uterus.
Typically the first phase of treatment for ovarian cancer, a laparotomy is a surgical procedure that allows for exploration of the abdomen and removal of as much of the cancer within the abdomen and pelvis area as possible. This procedure helps to diagnose and stage the cancer to determine additional therapy needed.
A surgical procedure that includes the removal of both ovaries and both fallopian tubes.
A surgical procedure often used for recurrent cervical cancer, this procedure includes the removal of the uterus, upper vagina and lymph nodes, along with the removal of the bladder, rectum and small parts of the colon.
This therapy is often used in the treatment of cervical cancer to destroy tumor cells and minimize damage to surrounding healthy tissue. To learn more about Radiation Oncology and the types of radiation therapies offered at West Cancer Center, click here.
A surgical procedure that involves the removal of the entire uterus, including the cervix, upper vagina and affected lymph nodes.
A minimally invasive options where smaller, precise incisions are made which decrease recovery times to 1-2 weeks and improves our patient’s quality of life.