Pennington Biomedical: Raising awareness of endometrial cancer

When physicians at Pennington Biomedical Research Center realized that endometrial cancer—the cancer most strongly associated with excess weight—was the fastest-growing cancer for young women in Louisiana, they knew time was of the essence.

“Most women are well-aware of cervical or ovarian cancer,” says Vance L. Albaugh, MD, PhD, a metabolic surgeon with Pennington Biomedical’s Metamor Institute. “Unfortunately, the cancer that’s much more common in women in Louisiana and increasingly prevalent is endometrial cancer … and many women are at increased risk without even realizing it.”

While recent changes in Pap smear guidelines recommending women in their 20s have the test every three years reflects a win in the battle against cervical cancer, it has unintentionally caused many women to see their gynecologist much less frequently – leaving decreased opportunity to address other important issues. In fact, nearly 20 percent of women at highest risk at Metamor Institute had not seen a gynecologist in years.

“Through our screening we’ve realized many women have abnormal menstrual cycles, but most don’t realize their cycle is ‘abnormal’ at all,” says Dr. Albaugh. “And since younger women don’t have as consistent contact with a gynecologist like women did decades ago, symptoms of abnormal cycling are going unnoticed and untreated.”

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