A.J. is a 58-year-old mother of three who went through menopause at the age of 50. She came to me complaining that she “got her period” last month. The bleeding stopped, and she’s had no problems since. It’s been eight years since she had her last normal period. She never went on any hormone replacement treatments, and otherwise has been fairly healthy. She has mild high blood pressure, which is well controlled on medication. A.J. is a little overweight, but so am I.
This complaint and exam is a relatively routine process in my practice. Her pelvic ultrasound showed what we call a “thickened endometrial lining.” The endometrium is the lining of the uterus (womb). This is where a baby would grow and where a woman’s menstrual cycles bleed from every month in normally menstruating woman. A.J.’s lining was thick, defined by the strict measurements we can perform during the ultrasound. When we find such thickening, there is a higher chance that she could have pre-cancerous cells or even endometrial (uterine) cancer itself. In the old days, and I am old enough to have been there, we would do a D and C (dilatation and curettage) in the operating room on all these women. Today, we have a simple, minute, in-office biopsy probe, which we can perform with no need for anesthesia. This is what we did. The results came back several days later showing she unfortunately did have endometrial cancer.