Death of Gwen Ifil sheds light on the hidden dangers of endometrial cancer.
Last month national journalist, Gwen Ifill passed away from cancer. It was later learned that she died of endometrial cancer. Endometrial cancer is the most common form of uterine cancer. It is cancer of the lining of the uterus.
The lining of the uterus, the endometrium, sheds and sloughs off and away during the menstrual cycle. During pregnancy, the spaces remaining from the shedding fuse and become connected forming the placenta.
This type of cancer occurs mostly in post-menopausal women. A common symptom is vaginal bleeding unrelated to the menstrual cycle. This is typically changes in the menstrual cycle and bleeding or spotting between periods. In addition, painful urination and pain during intercourse are other symptoms. Although these symptoms can occur without cancer, any irregular bleeding should be noted and an appointment with your gynecologist should be made. In about 10% of those diagnosed with endometrial cancer, there is a non-bloody discharge.
If the disease has progressed, the patient may feel a mass, begin to lose weight without trying, and serious pelvic pain.
Although the disease can effect anyone, some women have an increased risk and should pay careful attention to their bodies. These are women who are:
- Advancing in age
- Late menopause
- Never given birth
- High blood pressure
- On an estrogen regimen
- Close relative with diagnosis
- Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
Endometrial cancer is tested with the use of ultrasounds and tissue sampling. Endometrial tissue can be sampled using a hysteroscopy and D & C. If the cancer is discovered additional tests, such as: CT scans, MRIs and PET scans may be used to determine if the cancer has spread to other areas.
The best treatment options are a total hysterectomy. In other cases, radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy may also complete the treatment. If the cancer is diagnosed early, there is an over 80% five-year survival chance.
For more information on endometrial cancer, please click the link here.