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How Can Endometrial Hyperplasia Lead to Endometrial Cancer?

Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD · Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 15, 2022

How Can Endometrial Hyperplasia Lead to Endometrial Cancer?

People often hear about women having breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or even cervical cancer, but not much about endometrial cancer. In the third and final episode of the #HelloHealthHeroes series for World Cancer Day, make-up artist and trainer Geraldine Gayoso Carlos shares her story on how she fought against cancer and endometrial hyperplasia with atypia.

What Is Endometrial Hyperplasia?

Endometrial hyperplasia is a condition in which the endometrium — the layer of cells providing lining for the uterus — grows abnormally. It is classified into four different types:

  • Simple endometrial hyperplasia
  • Complex endometrial hyperplasia
  • Simple endometrial hyperplasia with atypia
  • Complex endometrial hyperplasia with atypia

Each of these varies in terms of how abnormal the cells are and how likely the condition is to progress to cancer.

The Connection Between PCOS and Endometrial Hyperplasia

At 18 years old, Geraldine was already diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, or what people commonly know as PCOS. Since then, she has been going through some treatments like hormonal pills and contraceptive pills to normalize her menstruation. However, she felt indifferent going about it over time as she was experiencing a heavy flow for 21 days every other month. There were also some months when this menstrual flow went beyond 30 days. This pushed her to see an obstetrician. 

Through a transvaginal ultrasound, her doctor found out that she had a thick endometrium lining that causes the heavy flow. But her doctor also though the long duration of the flow was odd, so she decided to recommend a D&C procedure. After the procedure revealed the presence of polyps, they followed through with a biopsy. From there, they found out that Geraldine had endometrial hyperplasia with atypia, a type that heightens the risk of developing endometrial cancer. 

According to a 2013 study, endometrial cancer is 2.7 times more likely in women who have PCOS. The endometrium’s prolonged exposure to unchallenged estrogen due to anovulation is a major contributor to this increased malignancy risk.

Endometrial Cancer Staging and Treatment

Staging immediately took place after the diagnosis, which occurred after a repeat D&C. A cancer’s stage determines the quantity of cancer in the body. It also aids in identifying the severity of cancer and how best to treat it. 

Similar to other types of cancer, the stages for endometrial cancer range from stage 1 to stage 4. Medical practitioners all follow through both the systems of FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) and American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM staging to administer the staging process. Both groups classify cancer on three common factors:

  • Tumor’s extent size: How much has cancer spread into the uterus? Is cancer spreading to other structures or organs?
  • Spread of cancer cells to nearby lymph nodes: Has it spread to the para-aortic lymph nodes? 
  • Spread of cancer to distant sites (metastasis): Has it spread to distant lymph nodes or organs in other parts of the body?
  • In Geraldine’s case, the cancer was already at stage 3. The cancer cells had already spread outside the uterus. After staging, Geraldine underwent procedures such as:

    • Radical hysterectomy
    • Chemotherapy
    • Pelvic radiation
    • Brachytherapy

    It took her around five to six months of chemotherapy (six sessions for every 21 days) before she was able to move forward with the next course of treatment. The last one she had was brachytherapy, which is a non-invasive outpatient procedure that required three sessions. She felt like it was the worst among the treatments, but at the same time, it only had a few side effects.  After all the treatments and hair loss, her doctor declared her cancer-free in October late last year. 

    Key Takeaways

    Geraldine’s story teaches us that we all need to look at chronic conditions as something treatable. Her story of ending endometrial cancer with unwavering faith and spirit continues to inspire many people through her YouTube videos. 

    Watch the full interview with Geraldine Gayoso Carlos, here.

    And learn more about World Cancer Day here

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    John Paul Abrina, MD

    Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 15, 2022

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