September is Uterine Cancer awareness month – Get in the Know!
Uterine cancer is the most common malignancy of the female reproductive system. Most often it arises from the endometrium, which is the inner lining that is shed during each menstrual cycle. Uterine cancer can however also develop from other tissues that support the uterus, including the uterine muscle, fat, and ligaments. Despite this cancer being the 9th most common malignancy in the United States, we don’t often hear much about it in the news. This is likely because uterine cancer is frequently found in the early stage, when the prognosis is very good. The 5-year overall survival for localized disease is 94.9%. These numbers are unfortunately much worse in cases where the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body, with a 5-year overall survival of 16.3%, so detecting this cancer at an early stage is very important.
There are several risk factors that have been associated with the development of uterine cancer, some of which include: physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, using estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy, never giving birth, having a first period before the age of 12, having menstruation stop after the age of 55, and using the drug tamoxifen.
Signs and Symptoms
Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of uterine cancer. This can include bleeding between periods, spotting/bleeding after menopause, or a change in menstruation (periods becoming heavier or more frequent). Other symptoms include: pelvic pain/pressure, painful urination or bowel movements, painful intercourse, blood in the urine or stool, a buildup of fluid in the abdomen, weight loss, and decreased appetite. Based on a patient’s health history, family history, and symptoms, doctors can assess for uterine abnormalities by ordering a transvaginal ultrasound and performing a pelvic and abdominal exam.
Preventing and treating uterine cancer
Many of the risk factors associated with developing uterine cancer are related to hormone balance, specifically a women’s balance of estrogen and progesterone. Metabolic dysfunction such as insulin resistance and blood sugar dysregulation are also known to play a role in the initiation and progression of this disease. In addition, there are many other hallmarks that generally lead to cancer development including avoiding immune destruction, genomic instability, tumor-promoting inflammation, and increased production of blood vessels. For these reasons, the naturopathic doctors at the Integrated Health Clinic use many of the following approaches for preventing and treating uterine cancer in addition to the conventional standard of care:
- Balance hormone levels
- Improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation
- Decrease chronic inflammation
- Stimulate the immune system and enable cancer cell recognition
- Prevent damage to DNA
These goals can be achieved through a variety of interventions, including: dietary and lifestyle changes, developing tools to manage stress and improve sleep, supplementation with botanicals and key nutrients, as well as intravenous and injectable therapies. Each plan for prevention or the treatment of uterine cancer is individualized to the patient to target their specific areas which need improvement.
To learn more about how you can prevent or treat uterine cancer, book an appointment with one of our naturopathic doctors!
Addition reference resources include:
If you or a friend or loved one want more information on the prevention or treatment of Uterine Cancer please contact the clinic at 604-888-8325, or through our website at www.integratedhealthclinic.com
Naturopathic Oncology Resident at the Integrated Health Clinic