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Good question. I had endometrial cancer, stage 1a. The endometrium is within the uterus and there is a difference between uterine and endometrial. I have seen diagrams, and it was explained to me, but I think my mind shut down and I just couldn't grasp it. Hopefully someone else can explain this to us.
Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer, which begins in the lining of the uterus (or endometrium). While endometrial cancer originates in the uterine lining, it can and often does invade the underlying muscle wall of the uterus. I believe the figures I saw a while back stated that approximately 90 to 95% of uterine cancer is endometrial cancer.
A much less common form of uterine cancer is uterine sarcoma, which is a cancerous tumor that originates in the underlying muscle of the uterus.
It's my experience that in most cases when people talk about uterine cancer, they mean endometrial cancer. However, a lot of people I've met over the years, even women with other gynecologic cancers, do not know what you're talking about when you say you've had endometrial cancer. So I usually explain that endometrial cancer and uterine cancer are one and the same.
I've heard it explained that endometrial cancer is a subset of uterine cancer. (i.e. all kinds of endometrial cancer are uterine cancers, but there are uterine cancers that are not endometrial cancer.) For an odd comparison, it is kind of like champagne and wine. All champagne is wine, but not all wine is champagne.
(Not meaning to imply that endometrial cancer is like champagne...)
For the visually oriented, picture two circles, with one circle completely within the borders of the other. The outer (bigger) circle is uterine cancer, and the inner (smaller) circle is endometrial cancer. The space outside the smaller but inside the larger circle represents non-endometrial yet still uterine cancers.
Can you tell I've taken entirely too many standardized tests in my life?
MoeKay, thanks for this:
"However, a lot of people I've met over the years, even women with other gynecologic cancers, do not know what you're talking about when you say you've had endometrial cancer. So I usually explain that endometrial cancer and uterine cancer are one and the same."
When I say, "endometrial cancer," I've had people think that I mean endometriosis, and never quite knew what to say to them. Explaining that it is uterine cancer will solve that dilemma.
Thanks also to Hammi for the analogy and the visuals -- that helped me. I look forward to a big glass of champagne at the end of my healing journey! I'm thinking a celebratory brunch with mimosas. It'll probably bring on a hot flash, so I should plan this as a poolside event ... we have a friend with a really nice pool ... wonder if she'd be up for a party at her house ...
I had a post-hyst celebration last year. (OK, so there were only 3 of us, but we had a lot of fun.) I hunted down every menstrual supply I could find in my apartment (tampons, pads, the works...) and put them in gift bags for my two best friends, along with chocolate, some bubble bath, and candles. The card read: Neener, neener, neener! I never have to do this again!
Being the awesome friends they are, they cackled, and then admired my scar.
Definitely celebrate pool-side. Soooo much more fun!