Actress Dixie Carter Dies of Endometrial Cancer
Emmy Award winner Dixie Carter has died at age 70 from complications arising from endometrial cancer, a common type of uterine cancer. The actress passed away in a Houston hospital on Saturday, April 10th.
Carter is best known as “Julia Sugarbaker” from the CBS television series “Designing Women” which aired September 1986 to May 1993. She also appeared on Broadway and earned an Emmy in 2007 for a guest role on ABC’s Desperate Housewives.
Endometrial cancer is a cancer that originates in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. Most are adenocarcinomas that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids. There are approximately 42,000 new cases diagnosed each year, with 7,780 deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Endometrial cancer is often diagnosed at an early stage because it frequently produces vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or after menopause. In addition to bleeding, other symptoms include pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, and unintended weight loss.
Estrogen levels may play a role in the development of endometrial cancer. Other risk factors include early onset of menstruation (before age 12) or onset of menopause later in life, never having been pregnant, irregular ovulation such as in PCOS, obesity, a high-fat diet, diabetes, and history of breast or ovarian cancer, particularly after taking the drug tamoxifen.
Surgery is the most common treatment for endometrial cancer, in most cases a hysterectomy. For more aggressive forms of cancer or if the cancer has metastasized, radiation and chemotherapy may also be used.
Although most cases of endometrial cancer are not preventable, certain lifestyle habits can lower the risk of developing the disease. Because estrogen stimulates the growth of the endometrium, taking hormone therapy with progestin after menopause can reduce the risk. As obesity is one of the most significant risk factors, maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is an important lifestyle change, not only for endometrial cancer, but also for many other types of cancer.
Ms. Carter is survived by her husband of 26 years and her two daughters Mary Dixie and Ginna.