Uterine cancer (or endometrial carcinoma) is a malignant tumour of the lining of the uterus. Women in the climacteric period are affected mostly after the menopause. Only about five percent are younger than 40 years old. In Western countries, uterine cancer occurs twice as often as cervical cancer. The rate of new cases per year has increased in recent years–it now stands at 25 in 100,000 women.
Early cancers can rarely be noticed in the context of screening. This tumour is noticeable early due to bleeding. Bleeding is always suspicious after the menopause, as is irregular with flesh-coloured discharge. Associated abdominal pain almost always indicates a far advanced, inoperable tumour.
It is believed that having an elevated oestrogen level for many years stimulates tumour formation; for example, women with cycle disorders, late menopause and hormone replacement therapy have a higher risk than the population average. Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus II increase the tumour risk. It is well known that obesity increases oestrogen production. Any risk linked to the exposure to phytoestrogens (oestrogen-like substances in food) is so far unclear. However, it is thought that hormone therapy with oestrogen increases the risk.
To diagnose uterus carcinoma, an ultrasound, computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, hysteroscopy (endoscopy of the uterus) or a tissue extraction (curettage) is performed. The diagnosis is confirmed by a scraping of the uterus.