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Uterine (Uterus) Cancer

Cancer of the uterus, also as known as uterine cancer or womb cancer is the 4th most common cancer affecting women in SA. 1 in 128 women are at risk for being diagnosed with uterine cancer (NCR 2017). The most common form of this cancer affects the lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium and is also referred to as endometrial cancer. A hormone imbalance causes the lining of the uterus to thicken. If the lining builds up and stays that way, cancer cells may start to grow.

Symptoms include: abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding (high volumes between periods), long and heavier than normal menstrual bleeding, and pain or pressure in the pelvic area (especially when urinating or during sexual intercourse).

Risk factors: Women who are 50 and older, have diabetes, or who have a family history of uterine cancer or endometrial polyps, infrequent menstrual cycle, menses starting before age of 12 yrs, have used oestrogen replacement therapy without the use of progesterone are more at risk. Other risk factors include being overweight, inactive, consuming alcohol, poor dietary habits, and smoking.

Madeleine Beukes: “I had a cyst on my ovary at the time which contributed to a lot of the symptoms and led to finding out that I had uterine cancer. My symptoms included: very painful menstruation cycles; irregular cycles (sometimes for three months on end, with a break of a day or two in between); heavy bleeding during cycles (heavier than I had been used to); spotting or brown discharge in between cycles.

My first gynecologist thought the symptoms I was experiencing could be caused by the contraceptive which I was using at the time. He spotted a growth in my womb, but said it was likely to be a wart and nothing to worry about. After 6 months my symptoms were still present and the pain had become worse, and so did the bleeding, so I consulted a 2nd gynecologist. She was concerned that the cyst had grown and also spotted the growth in my womb. It was removed and later on (after no one contacted me with any results – 5 weeks post op) I made a follow up appointment, and my gynecologist then explained to me that I have a rare type of uterine cancer called adenosarcoma*.

The most important thing I would like to share is that women need to realise the importance of screenings in order to catch these things early. Early detection is key, as it gets caught before it has the chance to spread. Also, trust your body- it tells you when something is wrong. Go for second opinions and follow up on results. The treatment is never pleasant, but it is worth it to prevent many other possible horrors.” (cancer Survivor, 27 yrs at time of diagnosis)

* Adenosarcoma of the uterus is a rare tumor of the uterus that typically originates in the lining of the uterus (endometrium).

Diagnosis & Support

If you have been diagnosed with uterine cancer, please contact your local CANSA Care Centre so that our staff can offer you and your loved ones care & support, including medical equipment hire, wigs, counselling, support groups, online support groups and resources, as well as CANSA Care Homes where patients receiving treatment far from home can stay during treatment.

Staff can also help guide you through the public health care system.

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 072 197 9305 English and Afrikaans
 071 867 3530 Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Siswati

 

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