The term uterine cancer describes several types of cancer related to the uterus:
- Endometrial cancer affects to the lining of the uterus. It is the most common type of uterine cancer.
- Uterine sarcoma is the rarest type, arising from the smooth muscle or connective tissue of the uterus.
Cervical cancer is a cancer of the cervix. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are dependent on the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV).
Common Signs and Symptoms
Irregular vaginal bleeding is the most common sign of uterine cancer. This is especially true of post-menopausal women who experience bleeding or spotting, as uterine cancer rarely occurs before menopause, but during or after. Menstruating women, however, should also inform their physician if they experience bleeding between periods.
Most women who are diagnosed with uterine cancer report that vaginal bleeding is the primary symptom experienced. While abnormal bleeding is a symptom of various other disorders, it is important to recognize it as a possible symptom of uterine cancer, and to take any irregular bleeding seriously.
Other Signs and Symptoms
Other symptoms of uterine cancer include painful urination, painful sexual intercourse, and abdominal pain or pressure. Since uterine tumors can put pressure on the gastrointestinal organs, a feeling of fullness is often reported. Vaginal discharge that is milky in color can be another symptom of uterine cancer, particularly in women who have gone through menopause.
Symptoms Unique to Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer symptoms differ slightly in advanced stages and can include weight loss, fatigue, lower back pain, and mild pain during intercourse. In the early stages of cervical cancer, symptoms may not occur at all.
HPV; human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted virus, causes many types of cervical cancer. The pre-cancerous cells that accompany HPV are diagnosed with a routine pap smear. A vaccine for HPV was developed for young women that can prevent many strains of HPV, therefore preventing most cervical cancer.