Q:  I am 40 years old and have abnormal bleeding. What are my chances that it's uterine cancer?

A:  Abnormal uterine bleeding has many causes that can be benign and caused by hormonal imbalances. In fact, as many as 75 percent of women with excessive menstrual bleeding have this condition, known as dysfunctional bleeding. In addition to menopause, other hormonal causes may include thyroid and adrenal gland imbalance. Another cause of excessive bleeding falls under the heading of structural causes, including fibroids, polyps, scar tissue, infection and precancerous conditions. But the only way to assess this is to do an endometrial biopsy.

Q:  My health care professional said she suspects that I could have uterine cancer. What kind of test will tell for sure?

A:  If cancer is suspected, a tissue sample must be taken from inside your uterus. This procedure is called an endometrial biopsy and can usually be done in the health care professional's office with minimal discomfort. Narrow instruments and suction tools are used to take the sample. You may have cramps or pain for a short time after the procedure.

Q:  I have uterine cancer and have been told I need a hysterectomy. Does that mean my sex life is over?

A:  Absolutely not. Although most health care professionals say that sexual desire and the ability to have sex are not generally affected by hysterectomy, many women do have an emotionally difficult time after a hysterectomy because their primary female organs have been removed and they can't have a baby, which may sadden them. The loss of female organs may also be a signal of advancing years for some women. These issues may affect a woman's overall attitude about intimacy. If this is how you feel, you may want to talk to a professional counselor about these issues.

Q:  What are my chances of survival after surgery?

A:  With early diagnosis and treatment, 90 to 98 percent of women with uterine cancer are cured.

Q:  My health care professional warned me that my high blood pressure might also put me at risk for uterine cancer. Why?

A:  High blood pressure has been associated with uterine cancer, but not as strongly as some other risk factors. The relationship between hypertension and uterine cancer may be due to the fact that many women with hypertension are also obese, which is a very strong risk factor for uterine cancer.

Q:  I am taking Tamoxifen for breast cancer and was told it might put me at risk for uterine cancer. What should I do?

A:  Some studies have shown that Tamoxifen significantly increases the risk of uterine cancer. However, it is believed that the lowered incidence of breast cancer deaths when taking this drug outweighs the risk of developing uterine cancer. If you are receiving Tamoxifen, you do not need routine ultrasounds, X-rays or biopsies, but you should be examined by your health care professional if irregular bleeding occurs.

Copyright 2003

National Women's Health Resource Center Inc. (NWHRC).