Uterine cancer: What you need to know about symptoms and treatment

Uterine cancer: What you need to know about symptoms and treatment

And because excess fat tissue can produce extra estrogen, obese women dramatically more likely develop endometrial cancer, Dr. Brawley said. Those who take estrogen without progesterone also have an increased risk of developing cancer, he added. To manage that risk, when doctors prescribe estrogen to control hot flashes, they should also prescribe progesterone, he said.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are also risk factors, said Dr. Ginger Gardner, a gynecologic oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. And, as with many other forms of cancer, family history can play a role, she added. Women whose family members have been diagnosed with uterine cancer should take special care in monitoring symptoms.

Abnormal bleeding is the most common symptom of uterine cancer, Dr. Brawley said, especially for women who have gone through menopause. dr. Gardner said if you experience vaginal bleeding after not having a period for a year or more, even light pink or brown spotting or spotting when wiping, you should talk to your gynecologist.

For younger women, a change in bleeding pattern — including bleeding between periods and heavy bleeding in general — can be a symptom of uterine cancer, she added.

dr. Andrea Jackson, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who specializes in caring for black patients, said patients often ignore these changes in bleeding patterns. Anecdotally, she said her black patients in particular often don’t see it as a cause for concern, in part because many have co-existing conditions such as fibroidswhich can also cause stains.

Skipping periods can also be a sign of concern, she said. If you miss a period for a long time, and you are not in menopause or on hormonal contraception, you should talk to a gynecologist.

Other early symptoms of uterine cancer include pain or pressure in the pelvis. Patients may experience bloating or changes in their bowel habits, which may look like constipation or diarrhea, Dr. Hinchcliff said. The center for disease control and prevention recommends seeing a doctor if symptoms persist for two weeks or longer.

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