The majority of cancers that occur in the body of the uterus (womb) are endometrial cancers. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus. Endometrial cancer is the sixth most common cancer in women with over 320,000 cases diagnosed, globally.
Fortunately, the overall survival rate for endometrial cancer is relatively high, at about 69% at the five-year mark.
This disease produces symptoms at earlier stages than other cancers, which leads to an early diagnosis. One early symptom of endometrial cancer is spotting after menopause. This symptom in particular may be overlooked by women as a part of menopause, but it should not be ignored, even if it is just a drop.
The risk of endometrial cancer increases with age, with most incidences diagnosed after menopause. While we can't stop ourselves from aging we can prevent the development of endometrial cancer, based upon the evidence from the Continuous Update Project (CUP). We can prevent 4 in 10 cases of endometrial cancer by being a healthy weight and being physically active.
Want to lower your risk, but don't know where to start? Here are 7 keys to making healthy changes that last from AICR:
- Focus on individual changes. Studies show that choosing one or two behaviors to work on helps make those changes stick. For example, personally deliver a message to a co-worker instead of emailing them to increase the steps you take in a day.
- Ask for help. Your doctor can refer you to a registered dietitian (RD) and a certified exercise physiologist or sign up for AICR'S New American Plate Challenge a 12-week interactive weight loss program. This 12-week challenge offers 3 tiers of support. The free web version offers weekly emails with challenge information and weight loss strategies, access to online recipes, activity tips and a participant sharing forum.
- Go public. Set a specific goal for behavior change and tell others about it!
- Record your progress. Make adjustments in your plan. Many websites or apps like Myfitnesspal are free and are designed to track your progress overtime.
- Treat yourself. Give yourself something you really enjoy when you reach a milestone on the way to your goal, such as a pedicure after running your first 5k.
- Accept setbacks. When attempting to make changes in your life, setbacks will occur. Developing a plan to anticipate and deal with setbacks will help you work through them without derailing your behavior change program.
- Be patient with yourself and your progress. Mark Twain once said, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby." By making gradual changes you are much more likely to keep them in the long run.
Carly Roop RD, CSO, is a registered dietitian at the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine Pennsylvania Hospital. Dietitians at the Abramson Cancer Center provide educational programs about nutrition that are open to patients as well as the community.