Uterine & Endometrial Cancer

Incidence

Uterine cancer is the most common gynecologic malignancy in the United States; there were approximately 50,000 new cases and over 8,000 deaths from this disease in 2013.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common sign of endometrial cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding. Abnormal vaginal bleeding includes:

  • Bleeding in between menstrual cycles (at times other than during your period)
  • Menstrual bleeding that is heavier than usual
  • Any vaginal bleeding in a woman who has already gone through menopause

These symptoms can be caused by conditions that are not cancer. But if you have these symptoms, tell your doctor or nurse.

Stages

Cancer staging is a way in which doctors find out how far the cancer has spread.

The right treatment for you will depend a lot on the stage of your cancer and how fast it is growing. Your treatment will also depend on your age and other medical problems.

Endometrial cancer is often diagnosed at an early stage.

Endometrial cancer's stage is based on:

  • How deeply the cancer has invaded the muscle wall of the uterus
  • Whether there are signs that the cancer has spread to other organs on a physical exam and at the time of surgery. Sometimes other imaging tests are also used.

Endometrial cancer stages range from stage I (cancer has not invaded beyond the uterus) to stage IV (the cancer has spread to distant organs, such as the liver). In general, lower stage cancers are less aggressive and require less treatment than do higher stage cancers.

Grade

The grade of endometrial cancer is determined by the appearance of the cells under a microscope. Grade ranges from 1-3. The least aggressive is Grade 1.

Treatments for Uterine and Endometrial Cancers

Most women with uterine cancer have surgery to remove the uterus, ovaries, and the fallopian tubes. This surgery is called a hysterectomy. During surgery, the doctor will also check the area and organs around the uterus to see if the cancer has spread. He or she might remove other organs that look abnormal.

Most women will not need further treatment after surgery but other women might need further treatment developing on the stage and grade of the cancer with one or all of the following:

  • Radiation therapy – Radiation kills cancer cells. Radiation can be given from a machine that is outside the body. Or a doctor can put a source of radiation directly into the vagina.
  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is medication used to treat and prevent recurrence of cancer by killing cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy – Medication used to treat or decrease the risk of recurrence of disease.

Source: The information on this page comes directly from articles on the UpToDate medical database.