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Signs & Symptoms of Uterine Cancer (Cancer of the Uterus): My Mother's Story

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What Is Uterine Cancer?

Uterine cancer is cancer of the uterus. It is also known as endometrial cancer, since it usually begins in the lining of the uterus, which is called the endometrium. This type of cancer affects about five to six percent of women between the ages of 55 and 70. Abnormal bleeding after menopause is usually one of the first signs of a problem, but this could also be from an infection or other non-cancerous issues.

My Mother's Story

Warning Signs

My mother experienced early warning signs of uterine cancer when she was still going through menopause. It was hard to distinguish whether the vaginal bleeding was abnormal or normal, because her cycles were so sporadic. Eventually, she stopped have periods entirely.

Still, she would start bleeding and spotting. This was a about a two or three year process. When she went to the doctor, they would put her on birth control pills to help stop her periodic bleeding, attributing her problems to the menopausal process.

After she retired, she decided to get back on track with the doctors and find out what could be causing the abnormal bleeding, discharge, loss of bladder control, pain, and more. After a while, her symptoms started to get progressively worse. For three years, her body was trying to tell her something wasn't right.

Dilation, Curettage, and Tests

After seeing a few different doctors and getting referrals, they decided to do a D&C (dilation and curettage), which is a procedure in which they remove tissue from the uterus. They wanted to do a physical first, so they did a few blood tests and an EKG. The EKG showed something was wrong. Now, they wanted to do an angioplasty. She ended up with a stent in her heart, and that put off the D&C.

The Cancer Spreads

My mother had to have a hysterectomy to remove her uterine cancer. After the surgery was over, she had to wait for the pathology reports to see if the cancer had metastasized to other organs. Unfortunately, the cancer had already spread into her ovaries and lymph nodes.

The doctor said if she hadn't waited so long to seek treatment when the symptoms began years before, the cancer would not have spread. Because her ovaries were now involved, she had to have eight chemotherapy sessions.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatments

To our surprise, the side effects of her chemotherapy didn't affect her as much as she thought it would. There were a few times when it made her horribly ill; she really did not want to continue at times, but she was determined to do whatever she could to get rid of the cancer in her body. My mother lost her hair and bought a wig. In fact, she likes the wig so much, she may just continue to wear it even when her hair grows back.

I will follow up on this and let you know what the outcome is. Right now, everything is at a stand still. She is not in remission, but the cancer is not spreading either. We have to wait until the radiation treatments are done to know what to do next.

Update: My mother passed away a year ago. She did not die of cancer. She had a heart attack.

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The Four Stages of Uterine Cancer

There are five stages of uterine cancer. The stages are defined by how far the cancer has spread. Each stage has a different outcome, but the outcomes depend largely on the person.

Stage I

  • Stage 1A: The cancer is only in the endometrium.
  • Stage 1B: The cancer has spread into the muscle layer of the uterus.
  • Stage 1C: The cancer has spread into the outer half of the muscle layer of uterus.

Stage II

  • Stage 2A: The cancer has spread to the glands, where the cervix and the uterus meet.
  • Stage 2B: The cancer has spread into the connective tissue of the cervix.

Stage III

  • Stage 3A: The cancer has either spread to the outer layer of the uterus, or the tissue beyond uterus or the peritoneum.
  • Stage 3B: The cancer has spread beyond the uterus, and is into the cervix and vagina.
  • Stage 3C: The cancer has spread into the lymph nodes near the uterus.

Stage IV

  • Stage 4A: The cancer has spread to the bladder, the bowel wall, or both.
  • Stage 4B: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
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Have Questions and Need Answers About Uterine Cancer?

What Kind of Treatments Are Available for Uterine Cancer?

Your doctor may recommend different treatments depending on your age and the stage of the cancer. Your doctor will decide what is appropriate for you.

I have been through radiation, but never chemotherapy, so I can't give you my honest experience with it. Radiation does not hurt or make you nauseous, at least I didn't have any issues in that regard. The amount and strength of radiation depends on how far the cancer has spread, as with any type of cancer. The most used treatments for uterine cancer are listed below.

Treatment Methods for Uterine Cancer

  1. Hysterectomy, either before or after any radiation or chemotherapy
  2. Radiation
  3. Hormone replacement
  4. Chemotherapy

Other Gynecological Cancers

As a woman, you are always going to be at risk for pelvic, vaginal, and other gynecological types of cancer, especially if you are sexually active, smoke, or have family members who have suffered from cancer. It's important that you learn the signs and symptoms of these types of cancers, and schedule regular check-ups with your doctor. No one is immune to cancer, and you may not be able to prevent it no matter how hard you try, but you can be proactive by learning about your body.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Lisa


ExoticHippieQueen on April 21, 2013:

Thank you for this informative article. It really does put into perspective the issue of putting your health issues on hold to accomplish some goal which, in the end, means nothing compared to your health and having a good outcome. I hope that your mother conquers the cancer and lives a long life.

Lisa (author) from Central USA on March 10, 2012:

yes, I know about that as well as a cervical cancer survivor. I have a story on that as well I wrote a Hub about. Thanks for commenting

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on March 10, 2012:

Sorry to hear about your mom's diagnosis and ongoing battle.

Hopefully, this hub will help others recognize the signs and symptoms of uterine cancer and seek treatment sooner rather than later.

Many women think pap smears will show if they have uterine cancer, but that's only true if the cancer has spread to the cervix or is originating in the cervical area so they need to know about the symptoms you've written here.

Great article. Voted up, useful and interesting.

Lisa (author) from Central USA on March 07, 2012:

Thank you so much for the comment. She is still alive, but fighting. There is so much more information I need to add and I am doing so as it comes.

Dianna Mendez on March 07, 2012:

I am one who peeked in to learn the warning signs of this cancer. I am sorry for the loss of your dear mom. She seemed to have been a great person from your story. Great introspect on the spread of the disease and your stage listing is a great aid to the article. Thanks for sharing.

Lisa (author) from Central USA on February 27, 2012:

Thanks for your encouragement. I had cancer myself when I was 25 and have several stories of cancer in my hubs. I'm glad you are doing well and I agree, bless every day and thank the Lord above for every breath you take because you never know when it's going to be your last. God Bless you

Eliminate Cancer from Massachusetts on February 27, 2012:

I'm sorry to hear about your mom - I've also had abnormal bleeding, but because of my history of breast cancer, the doctors were on top of it. I had one test come back looking like the cancer was active, and the next came back normal. In my case, I think I had some abnormal cells that went away on their own.

I believe looking for symptoms is important, but everyone should live every day and do everything in their power to prevent it!! As I'm sure you know - cancer treatment is miserable! Best of luck to your mom!!

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