What is Uterine Cancer? Endometrial Cancer (Uterine Endometrium Cancer)

Uterine cancer What?

Uterine cancer – also known as endometrial cancer, uterine endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the inner lining of the uterus. This lining is called the endometrium.

According to the National Cancer Institute , endometrial cancer accounts for about 6 percent of all cancers in American women. It is also the most common type of uterine cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of Uterine Cancer?

uterine cancer most common symptom is abnormal vaginal bleeding. This may include:

  • changes in the length or weight of menstrual periods
  • vaginal bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods
  • vaginal bleeding after menopause

Other potential symptoms of uterine cancer include:

  • watery or bloody vaginal discharge
  • pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis
  • pain during sex

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. These symptoms aren’t necessarily a sign of a serious condition, but it’s important to have them checked out.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding is usually caused by menopause or other non-cancerous conditions. But in some cases, it is a sign of endometrial cancer or other types of gynecological cancer.

Your doctor can help you identify the cause of your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment if needed.

When Should I See My Doctor?

You should make an appointment with your doctor if you have any symptoms associated with endometrial cancer. However, keep in mind that these symptoms can also be caused by several other non-cancerous conditions.

The most common symptom is unusual vaginal bleeding or spotting. This symptom usually occurs as a normal part of the menopausal process, but should still be brought to your doctor as a precaution.

However, if you experience vaginal bleeding after completing menopause, you should call your doctor immediately.

Postmenopausal bleeding is defined as bleeding that occurs after 12 months of the menstrual period in a woman of the age at which menopause is expected.

Other symptoms are:

  • thin or whitish discharge if you have gone through menopause
  • bleeding between periods or periods that last longer than usual
  • heavy bleeding, prolonged bleeding, or frequent bleeding if you are over 40
  • lower abdominal or pelvic pain
  • painful relationship

Causes of Endometrial Cancer

The exact cause of endometrial cancer is unknown. Some experts suspect that high estrogen levels may be responsible for this disease. Progesterone and estrogen are female sex hormones produced in the ovaries. When the balance of these two hormones changes, the endometrium can change. Studies have shown that increased estrogen without an increase in progesterone can thicken the endometrium and potentially increase the likelihood of cancer.

What scientists know for sure is that cancer begins when a genetic mutation causes the normal cells in your endometrium to become abnormal. These cells then multiply rapidly and form a tumor. In advanced cases, cancer cells metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.

Am I at Risk?

Age and Menopause

Most cases of endometrial cancer occur in women between the ages of 60 and 70. If you fall into this age range or have gone through menopause, several other factors may increase your risk even more. These include:

Estrogen Only HRT

Hormone replacement therapy, which contains estrogen but not the other female hormone known as progesterone, is known to increase the risk of endometrial cancer. This type of therapy is sometimes used to treat menopausal symptoms.

Later Menopause

Menopause, which begins at a later age, has been associated with a higher risk for endometrial cancer due to the body’s longer exposure to estrogen.

Exposure to Estrogen

If you had your first menstrual period before age 12, your risk of endometrial cancer increases due to increased exposure to estrogen throughout your life. Your exposure to estrogen is also increased if you are infertile or have never been pregnant.

Hormonal Changes

Some conditions or diseases cause changes that affect the balance between estrogen and progesterone levels in your body. These changes can result in thickening of the lining of the uterus, followed by an increased risk for cell abnormalities and cancer.

Hormonal risk factors include:

  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • endometrial polyps or other benign growths on the endometrium
  • hormone therapy with tamoxifen for breast cancer
  • estrogen-secreting ovarian tumors


Overweight or overweight women are more likely to develop endometrial cancer than women 2 to 4 times it should be more. Experts believe this is because adipose tissue produces high levels of estrogen.

Diabetes and Hypertension

Women with diabetes or hypertension are more likely to develop endometrial cancer. Researchers initially believed that these conditions were often caused by obesity. However, the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society Research published by MD has shown that both of these conditions can independently cause endometrial cancer.

People with hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) have a higher-than-normal risk of developing endometrial cancer.

Endometrial Cancer Diagnosis

Your doctor may do urine or blood tests and give you a physical exam to check your overall health. Other tests may include:

pelvic exam

Your doctor will check the uterus, vagina, rectum, and bladder for abnormalities such as lumps.

Pap Test

This test checks for atypical cells from your cervix and the upper part of your vagina.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create a picture of the uterus.


This surgical procedure involves your doctor removing a tissue sample from your endometrium.

Endometrial Cancer Staging

The next step after diagnosis is to find out how advanced your cancer is.

Tests commonly used in endometrial cancer staging are blood tests, chest X-rays, and computed tomography (CT) scans. CT scans show a cross-sectional view of your body from several X-rays. In some cases, your doctor may not be able to find out what stage your cancer is until after surgery.


  • Stage 1: The cancer is only in your womb.
  • Stage 2: The cancer is in your uterus and cervix.
  • Stage 3: The cancer is also located outside of your uterus and possibly in the pelvic lymph nodes, but not in your bladder or rectum
  • Stage 4: The cancer has spread beyond your pelvic area and may invade your rectum, bladder, and other parts of your body.

What are the treatment options?

There are several ways to treat endometrial cancer. Your treatment options depend on the stage of the cancer, your general health, and your personal preferences.

Surgical treatment

Most women with this cancer have a hysterectomy that removes the entire uterus. Another common procedure is a salpenopobectomy, which involves removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Having surgery gives your doctor a chance to check your uterus to see if the cancer has spread.

radiation therapy

This type of therapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. There are two different types of radiation therapy. The first is called external beam radiation therapy, in which radiation is delivered from a machine outside your body to the tumor. The second is called brachytherapy, which involves placing a radioactive material inside your vagina or uterus.

The radiation used in brachytherapy only works over short distances. This allows your doctor to give you high doses of radiation and have less effect on your healthy tissues.

Brachytherapy is used in early-stage disease after surgery and is combined with chemotherapy when the risk of post-operative growth of cancer is high. If you are unable to have surgery due to other medical conditions, radiation along with chemotherapy may be an option.


Chemotherapy drugs contain chemicals that destroy cancer cells. They can be taken in the form of a pill or through your veins through a vein. Some treatment plans include one drug, others two or more. This form of treatment can be used alone or in combination with radiation.

hormone therapy

This type of treatment uses medications to change your hormone levels. If you have a more advanced stage of cancer, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy. Some medications raise your progesterone levels, which can help prevent cancer cells from growing rapidly. Other drugs lower your estrogen levels to reduce the growth of cancer cells. This treatment is not widely used because it has not been shown to be as effective as other available treatments.

Coping and Finding Support

If you’re having trouble coping with your diagnosis, call a support group in your area. Being around others who share similar concerns can be a source of comfort. You should also learn as much as possible about your condition. This will help you feel more in control of the treatment process. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions or get a second opinion on treatment options.

How Can I Lower My Risk of Endometrial Cancer?

Pelvic Examinations and Pap Smear

See your gynecologist for regular pelvic exams and Pap smears, especially if you’re on estrogen replacement therapy. These tests can help your doctor find signs of abnormalities. Let your doctor know if you have any risk factors for endometrial cancer. Your doctor may want to see you more often for pelvic exams and Pap smears.

Birth control

Taking oral birth control pills for at least a year can reduce your risk of developing endometrial cancer. This is because they balance estrogen and progesterone levels. The preventive effects can last for several years after taking the pills. Ask your doctor about possible side effects before taking it.


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Facts about endometrial (uterine) cancer. (Nd)

Mayo Clinic Staff. Endometrial cancer. (2013, May 14)

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010, 4 December). Endometrial cancer: Risk factors. received

Obesity and cancer risk. (Nd)

Soler, M., Chatenoud, L., Negri, E., Parazzini, F., Franceschi, S., and Vecchia, C. (1999, August). Hypertension and hormone-dependent neoplasms in women. Hypertension, 34 (2), 320-325

Soliman, PT, Wu, D., Tortolero-Luna G., Schmeler, KM, Slomovitz, BM, Bray, MS… Lu, KH (2006, June). The relationship between adiponectin, insulin resistance and endometrial cancer. Cancer, 106 (11), 2376-81

Uterine cancer survival statistics. (2014, 10 December)

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