The uterus or the womb, is a strong muscular organ positioned in the pelvic region. The uterus contains a central cavity which is lined by the endometrium. The tissues of the endometrium build up every month during the menstrual cycle and are later passed off during the periods.
This cycle continues until the woman enters her menopause. In the years just preceding or coming after the menopause, there is an increased risk of uterine cancer or the development of malignant growth in the uterus.
Causes of Uterine Cancer
Genetic Mutation of the Endometrial Cells
The causes of uterine cancer are not yet conclusively established by the experts in the medical world. The widely accepted opinion regarding the primary cause of uterine cancer, suggests that something causes a change in the genetic constitution within the tissue cells of the endometrium, during the menopausal period.
This genetic mutation is responsible for converting the healthy and normal cells within the lining of the uterus into unhealthy cells. Contrary to the nature of the healthy cells that have a defined life cycle and period of growth, the abnormal cells tend to multiply and spread out of control. Their life cycle is also erratic and they ultimately form a mass of abnormal cells called a tumor. Uterine cancer is invasive in nature and it finds its way into the neighboring cells and starts spreading rapidly to other parts of the body.
Women tend to put on weight after childbirth and in their middle ages. The changes in the hormone levels during the menopausal period also tend to make women overweight.
Obesity in women is one of the other important causes attributed to uterine cancer. Doctors opine that the women who have given birth to children have a lower risk of getting uterine cancer than those who are childless.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
It is a common notion that Hormone Replacement Therapy prescribed to menopausal women increases the risks of the diagnosis of uterine cancer, if continued for a prolonged period. The change in the levels of progesterone and estrogen may cause a hormonal imbalance, that triggers off the growth of cancerous cells.
There is no conclusive evidence for this view and thus HRT cannot be linked to the development of uterine cancer without further research. Studies have shown that correctly prescribed and managed hormone replacement therapies, do not cause cancer in the uterus.
Cancer in the uterus may be caused by the natural aging process. Very few women below the age of 40 have been diagnosed for uterine cancer. Most cases of uterine cancer are detected among women above 60.
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Changes in Progesterone and Estrogen levels
The ovaries are responsible for the production of two major female hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone. It is understood that fluctuations in the natural hormonal balance leads to alterations in the nature of the endometrium. If the progesterone levels do not increase in the same proportion as the estrogen, then there is a risk of uterine cancer.
Irregular patterns of ovulation and menstrual cycle disturbances caused by diabetes, obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome, may lead to uterine cancer due to the imablance in estrogen levels. Another cause of cancer in the uterus is related to a rare version of tumor in the endometrium that secretes estrogen and increases the risk of endometrial or uterine cancer.
More Years of Menstrual Cycles
If the menstruation begins at an early age or if menopause sets in late, the endometrium gets increased exposure to estrogen. In other words, the more the number of periods in the lifetime of a woman, the higher is the risk of uterine cancer.
Tamoxifen Treatment for Breast Cancer
Tamoxifen is a hormone therapy drug, that is prescribed to patients of breast cancer. Though the benefits of Tamoxifen for the treatment of breast cancer are plenty, they still create a small risk of uterine cancer in the patients. If the patient is on this hormone therapy, it is advisable to consult the doctor about the increased dangers of uterine cancer.
Presence of Inherited Colon Cancer Syndrome
Nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is the name given to a hereditary syndrome that causes colon cancer. This may also be the cause of cancerous growth in the uterus. As HNPCC develops due to the passing of the gene mutation from the parents to their off springs, it is important to consult a doctor, if there has been a family history of the colon cancer syndrome in the previos generations.
The causes of cancer in the uterus or endometrial cancer, as it is commonly called, are not very well outlined. It is recommended that you consult a doctor as soon as any signs or symptoms of the uterine cancer arise in the patient, to facilitate timely diagnosis and intervention.
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