Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer | Cancer | Loyola Medicine

Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer

Why Choose Loyola for Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer?

Endometrial cancer, often called uterine cancer, is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs. It is the most common cancer to form in the uterus. (Uterine sarcoma is far less common.)

Endometrial cancer develops in the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium.

It most often affects women after menopause. Endometrial cancer frequently is detected at an early stage, and if it is, surgical removal of the uterus often cures the cancer.

Symptoms and Signs of Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer

Pain in the pelvic area and vaginal bleeding that is not related to your menstrual cycle are two general symptoms of endometrial cancer.

Other symptoms include:

  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Vaginal discharge that is watery or bloody
  • Pelvic pain and/or cramping
  • Pain in the lower abdomen 

Causes and Risk Factors of Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer

There are certain factors that increase your risk of developing endometrial cancer, but the cause is unknown.

These risk factors include:

  • Age: Women who are 50 or older are at a higher risk
  • Certain hereditary diseases, such as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC)
  • Changes in hormone levels
  • Diabetes
  • Early menstruation
  • Family history of endometrial and/or colon cancer
  • Hormone therapy for breast cancer
  • Late menopause
  • Never having been pregnant
  • Obesity
  • Ovarian tumors 

How Is Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer Diagnosed?

A thorough medical history and physical exam (including a pelvic exam) are the first steps your doctor will take to determine if you have endometrial cancer.

Additional tests include:

  • Endometrial biopsy – tissue is removed from the uterine lining for laboratory analysis.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound
  • Hysteroscopy: A thin, flexible, lighted tube (hysteroscope) is inserted through your vagina and cervix into your uterus. A lens on the hysteroscope allows your doctor to examine the inside of your uterus and the endometrium.
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Dilation and curettage (D&C): A surgical procedure to remove tissue from the uterus 

How is Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer Treated?

If you are diagnosed with endometrial cancer, your doctor likely will recommend surgery, including a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) with or without a salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes).

Other treatment options include:

The type of treatment you receive depends on the stage of the cancer, your preferences and general health. 

Prevention and Screening for Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer

Developing endometrial cancer cannot be prevented, but to reduce your risk, you can take these steps:

  • Use oral contraceptives
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Control diabetes if you have it
  • Talk to your doctor about estrogen replacement therapy about the risks
  • If you have a family history of HNPCC, ask your doctor about early detection.