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Is Bleeding After Menopause A Sign Of Ovarian Cancer

Prevention And When You Should See A Doctor

Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

The HPV vaccine is important for cervical cancer, Burzawa says, because cervical cancer typically develops due to that virus, which is passed on through sexual activity. She notes that you should practice safe sex with partners who may have been exposed to other diseases in the past or who could be carriers for HPV.

Also, make sure you get your Pap smear and have an annual well-woman exam, she says. Even if you dont need your Pap every year, you should still go see your physician.

During that appointment, tell your doctor about any concerning symptoms, including any of the aforementioned symptoms that could be tied to endometrial or ovarian cancer, like bloating or abnormal bleeding. Before you go, youll also want to take stock of your family history so your doctor can learn about any reasons for increased concern.

Burzawa says to see a specialist if you have increased specific concerns about your health overall. A gynecologic oncologist, in particular, is trained to evaluate any concerning womens health symptoms through a cancer lens. Theyll be able to give you a good analysis of your cancer risk right away.

What Causes Ovarian Cancer

When cells multiply and divide in an unregulated way, it is referred to as cancer. When this is found in the ovary, it is ovarian cancer. The exact reason this happens is unclear. These risks can increase the chance of getting the symptoms of ovarian cancer after menopause.

Your Family History

Those who have relatives whove had breast or ovarian cancer are at a higher risk of getting ovarian cancer than other women. Genetic testing can be done to screen out genes associated with the risk.

Many cases of ovarian cancer happen after a woman goes through menopause. This can be especially true for those over 63 but is less common before 40.

Reproductive History

Those who have had a pregnancy or more that went full-term are at a lower risk. This is especially true for those that were pregnant before 26 and your risk decreases the more pregnancies you have. Breastfeeding will also decrease your risk.

Birth Control

If you have used the pill for a minimum of three months, your risk may be reduced. The longer youve been on the pill, the lower the risk can be. Risk is decreased further if the birth control has been the Depo-shot and its been used for more than three years.

Fertility Treatment or Infertility

Breast Cancer

If a woman has been diagnosed with breast cancer, she has an increased risk of getting diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This is why those who test positive for BRCA2 or the BRCA1 gene may decide on oophorectomy for preventative measures.

Hormone Therapy

Why You Should Detect Ovarian Cancer Early If Possible

Here at UT Health East Texas HOPE Cancer Center, weve been helping East Texans fight cancer for over 30 years. We want everyone to be proactive and vigilant in their own personal detections of ovarian cancer. As we know how dramatically a cancer diagnosis can affect someones life.

Ovarian cancer can be challenging to detect in its early stages because the ovaries are small and located deep within the abdomen, therefore any growths that might be on them can be hard for a doctor to feel. Also, it can often be difficult to diagnose ovarian cancer early because the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. Only 20% of all ovarian cancer cases are discovered in the early stages. Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. In this later stage, ovarian cancer can be more difficult to treatbut certainly not impossible. Early-stage ovarian cancer, however, where the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully.

You may be wondering, What are the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer? Not to worry, there are many telltale signs you may have ovarian cancer. So we are going to tell you all you need to know about determining the early warning signs and symptoms of this rare and dangerous disease.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Endometrial Cancer

Some women with endometrial cancer have no symptoms until the disease has spread to other organs. But endometrial cancer is usually diagnosed by the appearance of symptoms — like vaginal bleeding — as the cancer begins to grow. The most likely symptoms are:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, which occurs in nine out of 10 women with endometrial cancer. Before menopause, this means unusually heavy irregular menstrual periods or bleeding between periods. After a woman enters menopause, this means any vaginal bleeding, unless they are on hormone replacement therapy . Even though HRT may cause vaginal bleeding in postmenopausal women, the first episodes of any such bleeding should be checked by a doctor to make sure that it is not due to endometrial cancer. However, only 15% of women with postmenopausal bleeding will have endometrial cancer.
  • Vaginal discharge that may range from pink and watery to thick, brown, and foul smelling.
  • An enlarged uterus, detectable during a pelvic exam.
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Unexpected weight loss.
  • Weakness and pain in the lower abdomen, back, or legs. This happens when the cancer has spread to other organs.

Why You Shouldnt Ignore Postmenopausal Bleeding

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A woman is considered to be in menopause after 12 consecutive months without a period. You may experience irregular bleeding leading up to menopause, a stage known as perimenopause. But once youre in menopause, all vaginal bleeding should stop.There are benign causes of postmenopausal bleeding. For 10 percent of women, however, the cause is endometrial cancer.Early diagnosis offers the best chance to beat endometrial cancer. I urge women to treat postmenopausal bleeding as cancer until proven to be something else. I dont say this to scare people, but a healthy amount of worry in this situation is warranted.

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Treatment Measures For Bleeding After Menopause

Even if the problem of cancer is successfully averted, you should not forget that you lose blood. Its not normal if its severe and frequent. Fortunately, there are many measures to successfully cure this problem. Consider the next possibilities:

  • Estrogen administration. You may pass a course of treatment with estrogen pills. Besides, your doctor may appoint vaginal rings or creams.
  • Progestin therapy. This measure is taken if you suffer from the thickening of the uterus tissues. Its carried out in the laboratory.
  • Hysteroscopy. This one is applied to remove polyps. Besides, it may be applied to handle the problem of the thickening of the uterus tissues.
  • Surgery. At times, only surgery can help to remove polyps or the thickened tissues. This process isnt too painful and complex.
  • Preparations. In case your blood loss is caused by the ailments transmitted via sex, youll be prescribed one or several preparations. They will be prescribed according to the severity of your problem and your natural tolerance.

Is bleeding after menopause always cancer? Its a good question, which must be asked by every woman who goes through menopause. Always consult certified specialists to receive the right and quick answer. Be cautious and attentive to avoid possible problems to be healthy and live your life to the fullest. If the disease is diagnosed, youll have to pass a hysterectomy. At times, other measures are undertaken .

Make Your Health A Priority

Women are known to focus on their families first and put their own health second. But you cant care for loved ones if youre not healthy yourself. Listen to your body. Alert your doctor to any changes or abnormal issues such as postmenopausal bleeding as soon as possible.Dont stop seeing your general gynecologist for an annual exam when you hit menopause. Just because your reproductive years have ended doesnt mean those body parts go away! Your cancer risk increases as you age, and your gynecologist can screen for the disease and help you manage any conditions caused by hormone changes.If youre experiencing postmenopausal bleeding or have any concerns about your gynecologic health, request an appointment online or by calling .

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What Are The Symptoms Of Uterine Cancer

Signs of uterine cancer can resemble those of many conditions. Thats especially true of other conditions affecting reproductive organs. If you notice unusual pain, leaking or bleeding, talk to your healthcare provider. An accurate diagnosis is important so you can get the right treatment.

Symptoms of endometrial cancer or uterine sarcoma include:

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods in women before menopause.
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting in postmenopausal women, even a little amount.
  • Lower abdominal pain or cramping in the pelvis, just below the belly.
  • Thin white or clear vaginal discharge in postmenopausal women.
  • Extremely long, heavy or frequent vaginal bleeding in women older than 40.

Postmenstrual Bleeding Treatment Options

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

Treatment options for postmenopausal bleeding will largely depend on whats causing your symptoms. Estrogen therapy can be used to treat conditions such as vaginal and endometrial atrophy. Progestin therapy, on the other hand, is used to treat endometrial hyperplasia.

Polyps can be removed during a hysteroscopy, or they might require surgery. Cancer and severe cases of endometrial hyperplasia can require a hysterectomy. If youre diagnosed with cancer, your doctor will discuss several options with you, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormonal treatments.

As with most other conditions, the most important step when it comes to postmenopausal bleeding is to get an early diagnosis. Once you know whats causing your symptoms, you and your doctor will be able to discuss treatment options and decide on the best course of action for your individual case.

Discovering that youre bleeding after menopause can be scary, but in most cases, the underlying condition can be treated with simple therapeutic options. Ensuring your wellbeing and overall health should always be your main concern.

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Current Testing Practices Supported

Currently, testing for endometrial cancer in women experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding consists of transvaginal ultrasound imaging, biopsy, or both.

Although people tend to think of biopsies as invasive and frightening, an endometrial biopsy is a simple procedure similar to a Pap smear, Dr. Chu explained. Like a Pap smear, it can be done in the doctors office and doesnt require anesthesia.

In their study, the researchers ran simulations in which they estimated how many women with postmenopausal bleeding would need to undergo additional testing to detect one case of endometrial cancer, based on varied levels of risk and different testing strategies. Assuming a 10% risk of endometrial cancer and that women underwent subsequent testing with ultrasound, they estimated that 7 women would need to have a biopsy to find 1 cancer.

Before sending a woman for testing, doctors should ask themselves: If she has postmenopausal bleeding, how high is her risk of cancer?” explained Dr. Wentzensen. “Our estimate of 10% supports the current practice of further evaluating these women.”

Menopause And Cancer Risk

There are a few things related to menopause that may affect your risk of developing ovarian cancer.

If you start menopause late — usually after age 52 — your chances may be higher. That could be because you’ve had more ovulations. Those are the times when your menstrual cycle triggers your hormones to release an egg.

Taking birth control pills can temporarily stop ovulation. That can lower your chance of developing ovarian cancer. You may want to talk to your doctor. You can weigh the risks and benefits of birth control pills and your risk of cancer.

Often, women take hormone therapy to cope with menopause symptoms like hot flashes and osteoporosis. Some studies suggest that taking those hormones may increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Hormone therapy usually involves taking only estrogen, estrogen plus progesterone, or estrogen and progestin, which is a fake hormone that acts like progesterone. According to the American Cancer Society, the risk appears to be higher when you take just estrogen for at least 5 or 10 years.

If you’re considering hormone therapy to help with your menopause symptoms, talk to your doctor about benefits and risks.

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Germ Cell/stromal Cell Tumors

Germ cell tumors and sex cord stromal tumors, the types of ovarian cancers often found in younger women, may have the symptoms described above but may have additional symptoms as well.

Masculinization

Tumors that produce male-type hormones may result in masculinization, with signs such as a lowering of the voice and male pattern hair growth. These symptoms are often found in the subtype of stromal ovarian tumors called Sertoli-Leydig cell tumors.

Vaginal Discharge or Bleeding

Vaginal discharge and/or bleeding similar to a period may also occur. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a common symptom of stromal cell tumors and is associated with estrogen secreted by these tumors.

Symptoms of bleeding before menarche , after menopause, or mid-cycle in women of reproductive age should be brought to a healthcare provider’s attention as there are many potential causes.

Precocious Puberty

Early puberty may also occur due to estrogen-secreting tumors and is most often seen with germ cell and stromal cell tumors. Symptoms may include early breast development, development of pubic hair, or early menses in girls.

Severe Pelvic Pain

Mild pelvic pain and pressure are common early symptoms of ovarian cancer, but a pain that is severe could herald an ovarian tumor in a different way.

Ovarian tumors, especially germ cell and stromal cell tumors, can cause the ovary to twist around the fallopian tube .

Pelvic Mass

Ovarian tumors and cysts can become quite large before they cause symptoms.

Other Studies Of Hormone Therapy And Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer â Icon Cancer Centre Hong Kong

In many observational studies which have followed women who choose to take hormones and compared them with women who do not, hormone use at menopause has been associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. A 2007 analysis that pulled together results from previous studies found this to be true for both women taking estrogen-alone and those taking an estrogen-plus-progestin combination. Even though the risk to an individual woman might be low, because these drugs are widely used, the increased risk translates into thousands of affected women. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Million Womens Study Collaborators have attributed use of HRT to 1300 additional ovarian cancers and 1000 additional deaths from the malignancy since 1991 in the UK.

Increased Duration of Use Increases Risk of Ovarian Cancer

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It Might Be Worth Seeing A Specialist

Your gynecologist should be able to perform your initial evaluation. But, if he or she suspects that your bleeding might be related to cancer, its important to see a gynecologic oncologist, Mantia-Smaldone said.

Endometrial cancer is usually treated with surgery that includes a hysterectomy, which may be followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy. Because gynecologic oncologists deal with female reproductive cancers every day, they have more experience operating on cancers, staging them correctly, and determining the best course of therapy. And that can add up to a more successful treatment outcome.

The Ovaries And Fertility

Women are able to have children between puberty and the menopause . The age when periods start and stop varies a great deal.

In the middle of each menstrual cycle , one of the ovaries releases an egg. It travels down the fallopian tube to the womb. The lining of the womb gets thicker and thicker, ready to receive a fertilised egg. If the egg is not fertilised by sperm, the thickened lining of the womb is shed as a period. Then the whole cycle begins again.

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What Are The Stages Of Ovarian Cancer

After a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, doctors will try to find out the cancers stage. This helps them to know about how far the cancer has spread so that they can treat it accordingly.

The stages of ovarian cancer range from stage I through IV . The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread.

  • Stage 1: Cancer is limited to one or both ovaries.
  • Stage 2: Cancer has spread outside of ovaries but limited to the pelvis.
  • Stage 3: Cancer has spread outside of the pelvis, but limited to the abdomen, or lymph node involvement, but not including the inside of the liver and spleen
  • Stage 4: Cancer has spread to the liver or outside of the abdomen like to lungs.

Can Post Menopausal Bleeding Be Caused By Thyroid

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These benign tumors often grow larger during perimenopause and tend to subside after menopause. May cause heavy, prolonged, or irregular bleeding . Hypothyroidism can cause heavy bleeding. Both hypo- and hyperthyroidism are associated with the absence of periods.

Hereof, what is the most common cause of postmenopausal bleeding?

Causes of postmenopausal bleedingThe most common causes are: inflammation and thinning of the vaginal lining or womb lining caused by lower oestrogen levels. cervical or womb polyps growths that are usually non-cancerous.

Likewise, can menopause trigger thyroid problems? Estrogen and thyroid functionEstrogen levels significantly decrease during menopause. This causes many of the symptoms associated with menopause. Estrogen levels may also affect thyroid function. Researchers found that estrogen levels might affect thyroid function and lead to thyroid disorders.

Also, can periods restart after menopause?

Because your final periods can be irregular, menopause is confirmed 12 months after your last period. It is not normal to bleed or spot 12 months or more after your last period. Bleeding after menopause is usually a sign of a minor health problem but can sometimes be an early sign of more serious disease.

Is Bleeding after menopause always cancer?

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Eleonora Teplinsky, MD, is the head of breast medical oncology at Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care in Paramus, New Jersey, and is a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She specializes in the treatment of breast and gynecologic cancers. Her research interests focus on the role of exercise and nutrition in cancer and survivorship. She is also a member of the Cancer.Net Editorial Board. You can follow Dr. Teplinsky on . View Dr. Teplinskys disclosures.

People approaching or going through menopause may be concerned that the symptoms theyre experiencing are related to menopause or another medical condition, such as cancer. But can the symptoms of menopause mimic those of certain types of cancer? Or, can menopause and its treatment increase a persons risk of cancer?

Heres what to know about how the symptoms of menopause can be similar to those of cancer and whether menopause impacts cancer risk.

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