Most of the time if you notice any signs or symptoms of endometrial cancer, like abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding, and you report them right away to a doctor, it enables you to diagnose the disease in its early stages. Early detection of endometrial cancer increases your chance of a successful treatment. However, some endometrial cancers can reach into their advanced stages before any of the signs and symptoms get noticed.
Tests for Early Detection & Screening of Endometrial Cancer
Early detection is sometimes referred to as ‘screenings’. This is the using of tests to detect a disease like cancer in those who have no symptoms.
Women with Average Risk for Endometrial Cancer
To date, there are no exams or screening tests to detect endometrial cancer in its early stages in women who have no symptoms and who have an average risk of developing the disease.
It is recommended by the American Cancer Society, that when women reach menopause they should know all about the symptoms and the risks involved with endometrial cancer. It is strongly encouraged to let their doctor know of any discharge, spotting, or vaginal bleeding.
Women always need to be talking with their doctors regarding regular pelvic exams. Pelvic exams will reveal some forms of cancer, including some of the more advanced uterine types, but they are not so effective for the early detection of endometrial cancers.
A Pap smear test that is used for screening women for cervical cancer will occasionally reveal some early screening of endometrial cancers. It is not, however, a very good test for detecting this kind of cancer. A pap smear is certainly effective for the early detection of cervix cancers.
Women Who Are At High Risk of Endometrial Cancer
It is recommended by the American Cancer Society that women who are at a high risk of endometrial cancer alert their doctor anytime they experience abnormal vaginal bleeding. That includes women who have a high risk as a result of their age, have never given birth, have diabetes, undergo estrogen treatments, undergo tamoxifen therapy, have high blood pressure, are obese, or have had a late menopause.
Women who might have hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer are at high risk for endometrial cancer. If endometrial or colon cancer has been found in several family members, then you may want to consider having some genetic counseling so you can learn about this risk and HNPCC. If you or any of your closest relatives have genetic testing and have been found to be carrying a mutation of one of the HNPCC genes, you are at high risk of developing endometrial cancer.
It is also recommended by the American Cancer Society that those women with HNPCC should be subject to yearly testing to detect endometrial cancer with an endometrial biopsy. This biopsy should start when they reach age 35. The doctors need to discuss the test with them and explain the benefits, limitations, and risks. That applies to all women who are known to be carrying the HNPCC-linked gene mutations. It also applies to women deemed as being likely to carry this type of mutation as well as those from families that have a tendency toward developing colon cancer and where genetic testing hasn’t been done.
Another option for women who have or who may have HNPCC is to get a hysterectomy after they are done having children. This is something worth considering, especially for women who are considered to be at a high risk of developing endometrial cancer. Preventing cancer is better than trying to cure cancer.