When a cancer starts in the uterus, it is called uterine cancer. All women, except those who have had a hysterectomy, are at risk for uterine cancer. The risk of uterine cancer increases with age, and most uterine cancers are found in women who are going through or have already experienced menopause. There are approximately 35,000 women diagnosed each year with uterine cancer in the United States.
Uterine cancer may cause the following signs and symptoms:
- Unusual discharge or bleeding
- Pain or pressure in your pelvis
There are two main types of uterine cancer: endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer, and uterine sarcoma is rare. When uterine cancer is found early, treatment is most effective.
There is no way to know who will be diagnosed with uterine cancer, however there are factors that increase the risk of diagnosis.
Risk factors include:
- Being over the age of 50
- History of breast, uterine, or colorectal cancer
- Nulliparous (or never given birth) or trouble getting pregnant
- Having less than five periods a year
- Past history of endometrial hyperplasia
- Hormone therapy
- Taking Tamoxifen (a drug for breast cancer)
Although there is no known way to prevent uterine cancer, risks can be lowered by using birth control pills, maintaining a healthy weight and staying active, taking progesterone if you are taking estrogen and talking with your doctor.