The womb or uterus is the part of the female reproductive system, which also includes fallopian tubes, ovaries, vagina and cervix. The uterus is the size and shape of the hollow pear. It sits low in your abdomen between the rectum and bladder and is held by muscle. This is joined to the vagina by cervix, which is the neck of the uterus. The uterus is where a fetus grows during the pregnancy. This is made up of two layers, myometrium, endometrium. Each month, ovaries release an egg in a process which is known as ovulation. The egg then travels via the fallopian tube into the uterus. If the egg is fertilized by the sperm, this will implant itself into the lining of the uterus and it grows into a baby. If the egg is not fertilized by a sperm, the lining flows out from the body via the vagina. The cancer of the uterus begins from the abnormal cells inlining of the uterus, muscle tissue or in the connective tissue which supports the endometrium.
Uterine Cancer- Symptoms
The common symptom of cancer of the uterus is unusual bleeding in the vagina, any bleeding after the menopause. Some women also experience watery discharge. Some symptoms also include unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain and difficulty in urination.
Uterine cancer- Types
Uterine cancer can be either endometrial cancer or uterine sarcoma. Given below is the more information about uterine cancer.
- Type 1 cancers: They are usually called endometrioid cancer, these are the most common type of endometrial cancer. The subtypes include adenoacanthoma, adenocarcinoma. They are less likely to spread and grow. They require less intensive treatment.
- Type 2 cancers: Types 2 cancers are less common. They also include uterine carcinosarcomas, serous carcinoma. They grow faster than type 1 cancers and are likely to spread.
Uterine Cancer- Diagnosis
If the doctor will suspect that you are having uterine cancer, you may have the following tests. The main tests for diagnosing cancer of the uterus are transvaginal ultrasound, the examination of the lining of the uterus, tissue sampling.
The doctor will check your abdomen to look for swelling. To check the uterus, they will place two fingers inside your vagina while pressing your abdomen. This is known as bimanual examination.
A pelvic ultrasound will use soundwaves to create a picture of uterus. A computer will also create an image based on the echoes produced when the soundwaves meet something dense, like an organ.
Blood and urine tests
The doctor might ask for urine and blood tests which will asses your general health. These results can help you and the doctor to make some treatment decisions. In some of the cases, you might be asked to have a test for the marker in the blood called CA125.
Also Read: Can Uterine Fibroids Affect Your Fertility?
Uterine Cancer- Treatment
The treatment which will be recommended by the doctor will depend on the results of the tests, type of cancer, the position of your cancer, where it has spread, your age. For many women, surgery is the only option.
Cancer of the uterus is treated by an operation which will remove the uterus and cervix along with the fallopian tubes. The ovaries are removed as they produce estrogen, a hormone which may cause cancer to grow. The surgery will be done under anesthesia. The hysterectomy offered to you will depend on various factors. The doctor will tell you about the complications of the procedure.
The surgery is done via the abdomen. A cut is usually done from the pubic area to the bellybutton. Sometimes a cut is made along the pubic line instead. Once the abdomen is open, the doctor then washes out this area with the fluid. The uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed. If cancer has been spread to the cervix, the doctor can also remove the small part of the upper vagina.
After the surgery
When you wake up after the surgery, you will be in recovery. Once you gain full conscious, you will be then transferred to the ward where you will stay for around 4 days. You will have some discomfort after the surgery. During the first day, you might be given pain medicine via a drip or local anesthesia. You can expect some vaginal bleeding after the procedure is done, which should stop after 2 weeks. You might have to wear a compression stocking for some weeks which will help the blood in your legs to circulate. You will be given an injection of blood thinner which will reduce the risk of blood clots. The doctor will have all the test results about a week after the procedure is done. This will clear that do you require any further treatment on the grade of the disease.
Uterine Cancer- Side Effects
After the surgery is done, women can experience some side effects like:
- Fatigue: It’s common to feel tired and lacks energy after the treatment. Traveling to hospitals and clinics for the treatment and also appointment can get exhausted. Your tiredness can continue for a while after the treatment is done. Fatigue can impact your ability to continue to work during the treatment.
- Vaginal narrowing: Radiotherapy to the pelvic area will cause vaginal tissue to lose the elasticity and shrink. If the ovaries were removed, the vagina can also become very dry. There are side effects which can make vaginal examination a difficult process for the doctor.
- Bladder problems: Bowel problems: After the radiotherapy or surgery, some women might notice bowel changes. You will also experience constipation, fecal incontinence or you will pain in your abdomen.
- Constipation: Constipation happened when you have difficulty in passing a bowel motion regularly. It’s better to avoid constipation, usually in days after the surgery, because this could lead to more discomfort.
Given below are tips to reduce constipation:
- Drink plenty of water- drink at least 10 glasses during a day
- Eat regular meals throughout the day
- Do some exercise like walking
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Limit the foods which contain added salts and sugars
Also Read: What Is Endometrial Cancer?