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Endometrial cancer is one of the most common cancers in American women. It is the fourth most common cancer found in women — after breast, lung and colon cancer. Endometrial cancer usually begins in the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. Endometrial cancer most often occurs after the reproductive years, between the ages of 60 and 70. Endometrial cancer is sometimes called uterine cancer, but there are other cells in the uterus that can become cancerous as well. These form much less common cancers called sarcomas and account for less than 5% of uterine cancers.
Endometrial cancer is often detected at an early stage because it frequently produces vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or after menopause. If discovered early, this slow-growing cancer is likely to be confined to the uterus. Removing the uterus surgically often eliminates the cancer. In fact, stage I endometrial cancer is successfully treated more than 90 percent of the time. Unfortunately, not everyone can be successfully treated because the cancer may have spread beyond the uterus at the time of diagnosis.
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Cancer: Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.
Colon: The part of the large intestine that extends to the rectum. The colon takes the contents of the small intestine, moving them to the rectum by contracting.
Melatonin: The only hormone secreted into the bloodstream by the pineal gland. The hormone appears to inhibit numerous endocrine functions, including the gonadotropic hormones. Research exists on the efficacy of melatonin in treating jet lag and certain sleep disorders. Dosages greater than l milligram have been associated with drowsiness, headaches, disturbances in sleep/wake cycles and is contraindicated in those who are on antidepressive medication. It also negatively influences insulin utilization.
Menopause: The cessation of menstruation (usually not official until 12 months have passed without periods), occurring at the average age of 52. As commonly used, the word denotes the time of a woman's life, usually between the ages of 45 and 54, when periods cease and any symptoms of low estrogen levels persist, including hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, loss of libido and vaginal dryness. When these early menopausal symptoms subside, a woman becomes postmenopausal.