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Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer starts in the lining of the uterus, and most often occurs in women over 55. It is a type of uterine cancer.

Endometrial cancer also is the most common gynecologic cancer in women in the U.S. Endometrial cancer is curable. It is important to get an early diagnosis before the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

What is endometrial cancer?

Endometrial cancer is the most common uterine cancer. With endometrial cancer, cells in the inner lining of the uterus are growing out of control. Stages of endometrial cancer are:

  • Stage 1: Cancer is only in the uterus

  • Stage 2: Cancer is in the uterus and cervix

  • Stage 3: Cancer is spread beyond the uterus to the pelvic area

  • Stage 4: Cancer is spread to the bowel, bladder, stomach and other organs.

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Any woman can develop endometrial cancer, though there are some factors that may increase the risks:
  • Older age

  • Hormone replacement therapy (without progesterone)

  • Endometrial polyps

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

  • Early periods or late menopause

  • Never having been pregnant

  • Infrequent periods

  • Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Having breast cancer or colon cancer

  • History of gallbladder disease

  • Taking Tamoxifen for breast cancer treatment


What are symptoms of endometrial cancer?

A common sign of endometrial cancer is abnormal bleeding. If you have irregular bleeding, such as bleeding after menopause or between periods, see your healthcare provider. Your provider will want to rule out cancer and other serious medical problems. Other endometrial cancer signs include:

  • Long periods after the age of 40

  • Pelvic pain

  • Watery or bloody discharge from your vagina

  • Pain during sexual intercourse 


Diagnosing endometrial cancer includes biopsy

  • Physical examination and health history review

  • Pelvic examination with pap smear

  • Endometrial biopsy

  • Imaging using an ultrasound, CAT scan or MRI

Treatment can be combined for endometrial cancer

Treatment is usually a series of different methods that can include surgery, radiation, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

  • Surgical treatment for endometrial cancer may be a hysterectomy to remove the uterus. The fallopian tubes and ovary also may be removed. Surgery may be done in combination with radiation therapy. Women who have a hysterectomy can no longer have children.
  • Chemotherapy: Women also may undergo chemotherapy or hormone therapy. Chemotherapy may be given by pill or intravenously (IV therapy).
  • Hormone therapy may be considered for women with advanced endometrial cancer that has spread outside the uterus.
  • Clinical trials using new cancer-fighting drugs may be an option for women with an advanced stage of endometrial cancer.