Uterine cancer, sometimes referred to as endometrial cancer, is the most commonly diagnosed gynecologic cancer in the United States (ACS, 2013; CDC, 2012). Each year about 45,000 women get uterine cancer and about 8,400 women die from it (CDC, 2012). It is a cancer caused by abnormal cells growing in the lining of the uterus, or endometrium (ACS, 2013; CDC, 2012). The two major types of uterine cancer are adenocarcinoma and sarcoma. Adenocarcinoma develops from the endometrium, which make up more than 95% of uterine cancers (Amant et al., 2005). The endometrium plays a major role each month by swelling in preparation for pregnancy in women of reproductive age; and if pregnancy does not occur, then the lining sheds and flows out of the body (menstrual period) (ACS, 2013). Sarcomas develop in the myometrium (uterine muscle) or in the tissues of the uterine glands and only make up 2-5% of uterine cancers (Amant et al., 2005). This paper will mainly focus on adenocarcinomas or endometrial cancer.
Cause and Risk Factors
The cause of endometrial cancer is unknown, but there is literature hypothesizing that the cause is due to excessive estrogen exposure in the body (Weiderpass et al., 1999). According to Weiderpass et al. (1999), the hormone imbalance causes the lining of the uterus to thicken and remain thickened, which initiates cancer cell growth. The excessive estrogen exposure will most likely develop in the setting of endometrial hyperplasia and present some uncomfortable signs and symptoms (Weiderpass et al, 1999). These signs and symptoms include postmenopausal vaginal bleeding, bleeding between periods, an abnormal watery or blood-tinged discharge from the vagina, pelvic pain, and pain during intercourse (CDC, 2012; NCI, 2010). The most common risk factors of developing endometrial cancer include the endometrium overgrowing abnormally or endometrial hyperplasia; menstrual and reproductive history, such as early menstruation, late menopause and infertility; estrogen intake history, such as hormone replacement therapy; obesity, where fat cells produce additional estrogen; tamoxifen intake history; radiation therapy; and family history (ACS, 2013; CDC; 2012; NCI, 2010). Endometrial cancer is rare in women under the age of 45 and slightly more common in white women; however, black women are more likely to die from it. Other risk factors associated with endometrial cancer include age, where women over 50 years are at greater risk; ethnicity; and having other cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer (ACS, 2013; CDC, 2012; NCI, 2010).
Nearly all uterine cancers start in the endometrium and are referred to as endometrial carcinomas or adenocarcinomas, meaning that they originate from a single layer of epithelial cells lining the endometrium (Creasman et al., 2003). The most common type of endometrial carcinoma is endometriod adenocarcinoma, which makes up about 80% of all endometrial carcinomas (Amant et al, 2005). ...