Dr. Sherley Samuels’ Thoughts on Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month
By Dr. Sherley Samuels, MD, FACOG
Uterine cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs.
It is estimated that approximately 54,000 women will be diagnosed with uterine cancer during the year of 2015. Endometrial cancer, cancer of the inner uterine lining, is the most common type of uterine cancer. Cancer of the muscle layer of the uterus is a rarer form.
Women over the age of 55 are more likely than younger women to be diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Younger women, however, can be at increased risk in certain situations. Obesity increases a woman’s risk of endometrial cancer. Moreover, any ailment that prevents a woman from ovulating for long periods of time, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), can also increase the risk.
Endometrial cancer commonly presents with abnormal uterine bleeding. This includes bleeding that occurs after menopause has already taken place (postmenopausal bleeding), heavier bleeding with periods, or bleeding in between periods. Other symptoms include abnormal discharge, pelvic mass and/or pain, and weight loss. In order to make a diagnosis of endometrial cancer, a sample of the inner lining of the uterus must be examined by a pathologist. This tissue is obtained by an OB/GYN either via an endometrial biopsy in the office or a surgical procedure.
If uterine cancer is diagnosed prior to spreading outside of the uterus, the five-year survival rate is 95%. It is important to seek medical attention if you have any bleeding that is not typical of your menstrual cycle. Early detection can mean a more favorable prognosis!