Women. This is important. You may be at risk for uterine cancer, especially if you are between the ages of 40 and 69. Uterine cancer is a silent cancer, not because of its symptoms, but because it’s a “private” cancer, one not often discussed publicly. I’m breaking the silence this week to inform as many women as possible of its risks and symptoms.
Since September is Uterine Cancer Awareness Month, I’m setting aside my usual content and writing about it on both of my blogs. Even if you are not at risk, please share this post with someone who is: maybe your mother, sister, aunt, co-worker, or friend. It could save their life.
Here are the facts. More than 47,000 American women will be diagnosed with uterine (also called endometrial) cancer this year. About 8,000 will die. Many of those deaths will be unnecessary because uterine cancer is highly curable in its early stages before it spreads to surrounding organs.
Sometimes, early detection is a problem because most uterine cancers occur in women during or soon after menopause, and symptoms are similar to those commonly found in menopausal women. If you are between the ages of 40 and 59, your chances of developing uterine cancer are 1 in 130. That ratio increases slightly to 1 in 114 between the ages of 60 and 69.
Awareness is crucial to fighting uterine cancer. The American Cancer Society lists these symptoms and risk factors:
Symptoms: Abnormal uterine bleeding or spotting (especially in postmenopausal women) is a frequent early sign. Pain during urination, intercourse, or in the pelvic area is also a symptom.
Risk factors: Obesity and greater abdominal fatness increase the risk of endometrial cancer, most likely by increasing the amount of estrogen in the body. Estrogen exposure is a strong risk factor. Other factors that increase estrogen exposure include menopausal estrogen therapy (without use of progestin), late menopause, never having children, and a history of polycystic ovary syndrome. (Estrogen plus progestin menopausal hormone therapy does not appear to increase risk.) Tamoxifen, a drug used to reduce breast cancer risk, increases risk slightly because it has estrogen-like effects on the uterus. Medical conditions that increase risk include Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), and diabetes. Pregnancy, use of oral contraceptives, and physical activity provide protection against endometrial cancer.
Thanks to God, I am a survivor. My uterine cancer was diagnosed in 2010, caught early and treated with surgery alone—no chemo or radiation. After my hysterectomy, I went for checkups every three months, then every four months, and until I reach five years I will go twice a year. I have no evidence of disease. So, you see, if caught early, uterine cancer can be put into remission and cured in a relatively simple way. In fact, the five-year survival rate when caught early is 96%. Most women diagnosed with uterine cancer live a normal lifespan and die from some other cause.
If you have symptoms, call your doctor. Please don’t wait. More often, the diagnosis is NOT cancer, still don’t take the risk. Have it checked.
Thank you for reading this post. Along with awareness, I wish you good health, and a long and happy life.
Will you do something for me? A peach ribbon indicates your support to spread the word about uterine cancer. Sometime during September, will you put this ribbon on your Facebook page, blog, or web page with a link to this post or to the American Cancer Society’s Overview of Uterine Cancer? Even better, make or buy a peach ribbon. Wear it, and discuss the symptoms and risks openly with your friends. You may also reblog my post onto your own blog. Together, let’s bring awareness to as many women as we can.
Links to more information about uterine (endometrial) cancer:
From another uterine cancer survivor: