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Uterine Cancer – Don’t Mistake The Signs!

uterine cancer signs

Mother-of-two Kelly Pendry, 42, made headlines news on BBC News, on March 6, with a heartfelt appeal to women to take control of their own health and not ignore the warning signs that could point to more serious illness. In 2016, after her second pregnancy, she began experiencing heavy, persistent bleeding coupled with debilitating abdominal pain.

Her concerns were dismissed by her health professional as ‘common post-pregnancy issues,’ when in fact, she was suffering from uterine leiomyosarcoma, an aggressive and potentially deadly female cancer. By the time she was correctly diagnosed in 2021, the disease had become terminal.

Know your risk factors

All women are at risk for uterine cancer, with the most common form being endometrial cancer which forms in the lining of the uterus, but the risk increases with age. Most uterine cancers are found in women who are going through or have through menopause, which may explain Kelly’s misdiagnosis as she presented with the disease much earlier in life than anticipated.

Predicting whether a woman will develop uterine cancer is not easy, but several factors may increase your chances, namely you:

  • are older than 50
  • have obesity
  • take oestrogen (without progesterone) for hormone replacement during menopause
  • have had trouble getting pregnant
  • have had fewer than five periods in a year before starting menopause
  • take Tamoxifen (a drug used to prevent and treat certain types of breast cancer)
  • have close family members who have had uterine, colon, or ovarian cancer

Common symptoms of uterine cancer

Vaginal discharge or abnormal bleeding, particularly after you have gone through menopause and between periods, are symptoms that should not be ignored. These symptoms could be caused by something other than cancer, but do not ignore the signs. See a doctor right away.

Uterine cancer may also cause other symptoms, such as pain or pressure in the pelvis (especially when urinating or during sexual intercourse).

What the stats reveal about uterine cancer

Interestingly, uterine cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in the United States, with the number of cases expected to rise to 122 000 by 2030. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 12 550 people will die from this disease in the USA.

In South Africa, uterine cancer ranks as the fourth most common cancer affecting women, with endometrial cancer – which forms due to a hormone imbalance, causing the lining of the uterus to thicken – being the most common form. If the lining of the uterus builds up and remains that way, cancer cells may start to grow.

Cancer costs are soaring

Currently, surgery to remove the uterus is the main treatment for uterine cancer, but advanced cases may need radiation and chemotherapy, or a combination of all three.

The good news is that technological advancements, by way of drugs and medical procedures for treating these types of cancers, are increasing. The bad news is, so are the costs.

According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, cancer costs the world approximately US$895 billion a year. Cancer Research UK further claims that the cost of cancer drugs is increasing by 10 per cent per year. Alongside drugs, the cost of diagnosis, radiation, chemotherapy, imaging, pathology, surgery, and end-of-life care is also rising exponentially.

The Independent Clinical Oncology Network in South Africa estimates that, depending on the type of cancer, treatment locally can cost anything between R10 000 and R1 million per patient per year.

It’s unfortunate that medical health plans may not cover the entire cost of medical bills. Therefore, it’s important to explore other options for financing treatment. The most cost-effective solution for avoiding a large medical bill is to consider gap cover, especially for women’s cancer treatment.

Be prepared for anything with Female Cancer Cover

With premiums starting from a mere R135.00 per month, the newly launched Female Cancer Cover by Total Risk Administrators is a good option. Upon diagnosis, and once your claim has been lodged, you will be paid out a lump sum towards your treatment within 48 hours.

Sadly, a cancer diagnosis not only comes with emotional, physical, and psychological consequences but financial ones as well. Ladies, be adequately prepared. As we age, we have a higher risk of contracting one of these deadly female cancers and dealing with a cancer diagnosis is stressful enough without the financial implications.

Note: All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on and matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgement available to the authors, and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries. Errors and Omissions Excepted. Terms and Conditions Apply.

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