Are uterine cancer and cervical cancer the same ?
Uterine cancer is the cancer arising from the lining of the uterus. It should not be confused with cervical cancer which arises from the bottom part of the uterus or cervix. Cervix is the area where your smears are taken from.
A normal smear therefore does not reassure you that you do not have uterine cancer.
Uterine cancer is the most common gynaecological cancer in New Zealand. There are approximately 315 new cases of Uterine cancer in New Zealand every year.
What are the common complaints or signs of uterine cancer?
Vaginal bleeding after menopause
Prolonged periods or bleeding between periods
An abnormal, watery or blood-tinged discharge from your vagina
Pain during intercourse
What are the risk factors for developing uterine cancer?
Changes in the level of female hormones. Fluctuations in the balance of hormones may cause changes in the lining of the uterus. This may happen in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, obesity and diabetes.
Late menopause. Having periods after 50 and so on it does increase the risk of cancer developing in the uterine lining.
Never having been pregnant. Women who have never been pregnant have a higher risk of uterine cancer than do women who have had at least one pregnancy.
Older age. In fact most of the uterine cancers occur in women after the menopause.
Hormone therapy for breast cancer. The use of tamoxifen may increase the risk of developing uterine cancer. Tamoxifen is however a good drug for the breast.
How is uterine cancer diagnosed?
The use of vaginal ultrasound to assess the thickness of the lining of the uterus
Biopsy of the lining of the uterus
Hysteroscopy, which is the assessment of the uterine cavity using a small thin telescope that allows your Gynaecologist to take a directed sample of most of the uterine lining. The specimen is then sent to a Pathologist who will examine it under the microscope providing an accurate diagnosis. ( Curettage without the use of a hysteroscope has some limitations ).