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Endometrial Cancer Patient Care at BMC

Introduction to Endometrial Cancer Patient Care at BMC  
What Is Endometrial Cancer? 
What Are the Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer? 
What Are the Causes of Endometrial Cancer? 
How Is Endometrial Cancer Diagnosed?
How Is Endometrial Cancer Treated? 
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At Boston Medical Center (BMC), the care of patients with endometrial cancer is a collaborative, multidisciplinary process. Organizing our services around each patient, we bring together the expertise of diverse specialists to manage your care from your first consultation through treatment and follow-up visits.

In our highly supportive and collaborative environment, experts in endometrial cancer provide you with the most advanced, coordinated and comprehensive medical care available anywhere—treatment that is effective and innovative in curing and controlling cancer and managing its impact on your quality of life.
At BMC, diagnosis and treatment of patients with endometrial cancer combines the resources of a multidisciplinary clinical center dedicated to personal, patient-focused care with the state-of-the-art expertise and technological advances of a major teaching hospital. As the primary teaching affiliate of the Boston University School of Medicine, BMC is at the forefront of clinical practice, surgical expertise and research in oncology.

Endometrial cancer is a treatable disease. In our culture of innovation, collaboration and compassionate care, you will receive treatment from physicians who are nationally recognized leaders in the care of patients with all stages of endometrial cancer.

To schedule an appointment or refer a patient, call BMC Connect at 1.800.841.4325. Patients with a diagnosis or strong suspicion of cancer are given appointments within 72 hours.

What Is Endometrial Cancer?

Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the uterus. The uterus is part of the female reproductive system. It is a hollow organ that extends in one direction towards the vagina and in the other direction towards the fallopian tubes and ovaries. It is the location where a fetus grows during pregnancy. The uterine wall has two layers: the endometrium and the myometrium. The endometrium is the inner lining of the uterus; this is where endometrial cancer begins. The myometrium is the outer muscle layer of the uterine wall.

Most of the cancers that begin in the uterus begin in the cells that form the glands in the endometrium. Cancers may also begin in other cells found within the endometrium or myometrium, but these types of cancers are less common.

What Are the Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer?

The most common symptoms of endometrial cancer include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Spotting
  • Other vaginal discharge

If you have concerns about any symptoms you may be experiencing, please consult your physician immediately.

What Are the Causes of Endometrial Cancer?

Although the exact causes of most cases of endometrial cancer remain unknown, certain risk factors connected to the disease have been identified. Risk factors are things that increase an individual's chances of developing cancer, but they are not direct causes of the disease. While risk factors may be useful in identifying high-risk individuals, they do not determine whether a person develops a disease. Some risk factors, such as diet, are within our control, while others, such as age, are not.

Some of the risk factors for endometrial cancer include:

  • Age:  Older women have a greater risk of developing endometrial cancer.

  • Diabetes:  The risk of developing endometrial cancer is four times greater for women who have diabetes than for women who do not.

  • Estrogen Hormone Therapy:  Estrogen is a female sex hormone that also helps with the growth of long bones. Estrogen hormone therapy, also called menopausal hormone therapy, is used to treat the symptoms of menopause. Estrogen therapy has been proven to increase the risk of endometrial cancer in women who have a uterus. Progesterone is a hormone involved with the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Progesterone drugs are usually given with estrogen to reduce a woman’s risk of developing endometrial cancer; this is referred to as combination hormone therapy.

  • Family History:  If women have immediate family members with endometrial cancer, they are likely to have an increased risk of developing it. 

  • Genetic Syndromes:  Certain hereditary conditions may increase the risk of developing endometrial cancer, such as Lynch syndrome, which is characterized by mutations (changes to a cell’s genetic makeup) in the MLH1 or MSH2 genes. Women with Lynch syndrome have an increased risk of 40% to 60% of developing endometrial cancer.

  • Obesity:  Women who are obese have an increased risk of developing endometrial cancer. Women who are overweight have twice the risk of developing endometrial cancer, while women who are obese have three times the risk.

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome:  Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a women’s health condition characterized by abnormal hormone levels, which can result in a number of medical issues, including (but not limited to) infertility, menstrual problems, increased androgen (male hormone) levels, and facial and body hair growth. Increased estrogen and decreased progesterone levels associated with PCOS can increase a woman’s risk of getting endometrial cancer.

  • Using Birth Control Pills:  Taking birth control medication is known to decrease the risk of developing endometrial cancer.

At this point in time, there are no screening procedures in place to detect endometrial cancer. However, patients with a strong family history of endometrial or colon cancer may be eligible for genetic counseling. For more information, please visit Genetic Counseling, or talk to your doctor to request a referral.