Overview

About Endometrial Cancer

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About Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer is a disease in which cancerous cells form in the tissues of the endometrium, which is part of the uterus.

Signs & Symptoms

These are signs of endometrial cancer:

  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge not related to menstrual cycles
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pain in the pelvic area

Many other health problems can also cause these signs. If you have any of these signs, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Learn more about endometrial cancer from the National Cancer Institute. 

Image of the Female Reproductive System

anatomical drawing of the female reproductive system

Anatomy of the female reproductive system. The organs in the female reproductive system include the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and vagina. The uterus has a muscular outer layer called the myometrium and an inner lining called the endometrium.

Specialties & Treatments

The treatment or combination of treatments each patient has depends on the stage of the cancer, recommendations of the care team, and the patient’s wishes. These are the most common types of treatment for endometrial cancer:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Targeted therapy

Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Cancers Program provides comprehensive, compassionate, state-of-the-art care for cancers of the female reproductive organs. Our experts treat and diagnose all types of these cancers and conditions.

Learn more about types of cancer treatment or endometrial cancer surgery choices from the National Cancer Institute.

Find an Endometrial Cancer Doctor

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Causes & Risk Factors

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean you are sure to get cancer. It means your chances are higher than the average person’s. Talk with your doctor to learn more about your cancer risk.

The chance of getting endometrial cancer increases with age. These are other risk factors:

  • A personal history of endometrial cancer or other endometrial diseases
  • A family history of uterine cancer in a mother, daughter, or sister
  • Never giving birth
  • Different syndromes including metabolic syndrome or polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Genes which may be linked to Lynch syndrome
  • Beginning menstruation at an early age and/or reaching menopause at an older age
  • A history of endometrial hyperplasia
  • Being overweight
Learn more about ways to prevent cancer and about cancer screenings.

Diagnosis & Stages

Diagnosis of Endometrial Cancer

Doctors use these tests to diagnose endometrial cancer:

  • Biopsy: The health care provider removes cell or tissue samples so they can be viewed under a microscope to check for signs of cancer.
  • Ultrasound: This procedure uses high-energy sound waves to create a picture of the internal organs.
  • Physical exam and history: A health care provider examines your body for signs of disease. Your personal health habits, past illnesses, and symptoms help guide the exam.
  • Laboratory tests: Through testing body tissues, blood, urine, or other substances in the body, your health care team can check to see how the liver and other organs are functioning. They can also look for substances that cells produce when cancer is present.
  • Imaging tests: Using dyes, x-rays, magnets, radio waves, and/or computer technology, your health care provider can create detailed images of internal organs. Your health care provider may inject or have you swallow a dye to help see the images.

Stages of Endometrial Cancer

Staging is the process that shows whether cancer has spread within or around the endometrium or to other parts of the body. Cancer spreads in the body in three ways: through tissue, the lymph system, or the blood.

These are the stages used for endometrial cancer:

  • Stage I (IA, IB): Cancer is found only in the uterus.
  • Stage II: Cancer has spread into the tissues of the cervix, but not outside the uterus.
  • Stage III (IIIA, IIIB, IIIC): Cancer has spread within but not beyond the pelvis.
  • Stage IV (IVA, IVB): Cancer has spread into the bladder, bowel, or to a part of the body away from the uterus, such as the liver or lungs.

When cancer spreads from where it started to another part of the body, it is called metastasis. These metastatic cancer cells are the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if endometrial cancer spreads to the bone, the cancer cells in the bone are actually endometrial cancer cells. The disease is metastatic endometrial cancer, not bone cancer.

Learn more about the stages of endometrial cancer from the National Cancer Institute.