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No Shave November: Endometrial Cancer

During the month of November, the Hawk Morning Show is going unshaven to bring to light some of the rarer forms of cancer that you might not have heard of before.

According to the official No-Shave Facebook page and website “No-Shave November is a unique way to raise cancer awareness. The goal is to grow awareness by embracing our hair – which many cancer patients lose – and letting it grow wild.

Each Friday during the month of No-Shave November, Glenn and I will post pictures of our unshaven selves and share with you information on various forms of cancer and the struggles those with each form of cancer face.

This week we’re introducing you to a cancer called Endometrial Cancer.

Endometrial cancer forms in the tissue lining in the, the organ in a woman’s pelvis in which a baby grows. Most endometrial cancers are begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids. Endometrial cancer is often detected at an early stage because it frequently produces abnormal vaginal bleeding, which prompts women to see their doctors. If endometrial cancer is discovered early, removing the uterus surgically often cures endometrial cancer.

What are the symptoms?

Vaginal bleeding after menopause
Bleeding between periods
An abnormal, watery or blood-tinged discharge from your vagina
Pelvic pain
Pain during intercourse

What causes endometrial cancer?
The simple answer is that doctors don’t know what causes endometrial cancer. What’s known is that something occurs to create a genetic mutation within cells in the lining of the uterus. The genetic mutation turns normal and healthy cells into abnormal cells. Healthy cells grow and multiply at a set rate, eventually dying at a set time. Abnormal cells grow and multiply out of control, and they don’t die at a set time. The accumulating abnormal cells form a mass (tumor). Cancer cells invade nearby tissues and can separate from an initial tumor to spread elsewhere in the body (metastasize).

Are there any risk factors associated with endometrial cancer?
Yes, several:

  • Changes in the balance of female hormones in the body play a factor. Your ovaries make two main female hormones — estrogen and progesterone. Fluctuations in the balance of these hormones cause changes in your endometrium. A disease or condition that increases the amount of estrogen, but not the level of progesterone, in your body can increase your risk of endometrial cancer. Examples include irregular ovulation patterns, such as can occur in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, obesity and diabetes. Taking hormones after menopause that contain estrogen but not progesterone increases the risk of endometrial cancer.
  • A rare type of ovarian tumor that secretes estrogen also can increase the risk of endometrial cancer.
  • Starting menstruation at an early age — before age 12 — or beginning menopause later increases the risk of endometrial cancer. The more periods you’ve had, the more exposure your endometrium has had to estrogen and also never having been pregnant.
  • Women who have never been pregnant have a higher risk of endometrial cancer than do women who have had at least one pregnancy.
  • Older age. As you get older, your risk of endometrial cancer increases. The majority of endometrial cancer occurs in older women who have undergone menopause.
  • Obesity. Being obese increases your risk of endometrial cancer. This may occur because excess body fat alters your body’s balance of hormones.
  • Hormone therapy for breast cancer. Women with breast cancer who take the hormone therapy drug tamoxifen have an increased risk of developing endometrial cancer. If you’re taking tamoxifen, discuss this risk with your doctor. For most women, the benefits of tamoxifen outweigh the small risk of endometrial cancer.
  • An inherited colon cancer syndrome. Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is a syndrome that increases the risk of colon cancer and other cancers, including endometrial cancer. HNPCC occurs because of a gene mutation passed from parents to children. If a family member has been diagnosed with HNPCC, discuss your risk of the genetic syndrome with your doctor. If you’ve been diagnosed with HNPCC, ask your doctor what cancer screening tests you should undergo.

What are the complications of endometrial cancer?
Endometrial cancer can spread to other parts of your body, making it more difficult to treat successfully. Endometrial cancer that spreads (metastasizes) most often travels to the lungs.

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