Continued from previous page.

Most cases of endometrial cancer present early with some form of abnormal vaginal bleeding, particularly post-menopausal bleeding. Treatment of endometrial cancer will depend on the stage of the disease and the general health of the patient.

​Stages of endometrial cancer

If endometrial cancer is not detected early, it can spread (metastasize) from the uterus to neighbouring areas such as the cervix, and further away to the bowels. The different stages of the endometrial cancer are determined by how far the disease, also called uterine cancer or womb cancer, has spread.

Stage 1: Cancer is limited to the uterus

Stage 2: Cancer has spread from the uterus to the cervix

Stage 3: Cancer has spread to the wider pelvic region, including the pelvic lymph nodes

Stage 4: Cancer has spread outside the pelvic region, to the bladder, bowels, rectum Content

Treatment of endometrial cancer

The various treatment options for endometrial cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy

Doctors usually recommend surgery as the best treatment for endometrial cancer. Surgery typically involves the removal of the uterus (hysterectomy), as well as the removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries (salpingo-oophorectomy).

“If you are still having your periods, you'll experience menopause once your ovaries are removed," says Dr Wong Wai Loong, Deputy Head & Consultant, KK Gynaecological Cancer Centre, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

The surgeon will also remove the pelvic lymph nodes, to assess the spread of the cancer. If the cancer is at an advanced stage, the patient may be required to undergo further treatment after surgery. This could be in the form of radiotherapy, hormonal treatment or chemotherapy.

If the patient is not fit enough to undergo surgery, she may be treated with radiation alone.

How to prevent endometrial cancer

Here are the various ways a woman can reduce her risk of endometrial cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get adequate daily physical exercise
  • Control diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Get pregnant and have children
  • Use Mirena [Medicated Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD)]
  • Use oral contraceptive pills
  • Have hormone therapy with progestin, a form of the hormone progesterone

“Infertility or failure to ovulate puts a woman at greater risk of developing endometrial cancer while getting pregnant and having children has a protective effect,” says Dr Wong.

5 Things to remember about endometrial cancer

  1. Endometrial cancer is not painful in the early stages of the disease. Don’t wait for painful symptoms to occur, get any suspicious symptoms checked
  2. Post-menopausal bleeding is not normal, and may be a symptom of endometrial cancer
  3. Irregular heavy periods can also be a symptom of endometrial cancer, and any woman suffering from it should seek medical attention
  4. Endometrial cancer is curable if it is detected at an early stage. The 5-year survival rate for endometrial cancer is about 80 per cent
  5. If endometrial cancer is discovered early and is confined to the uterus, removing the womb often eliminates all of the cancer

See the previous page to learn about risk factors and symptoms of endometrial cancer.

Ref: R14