Uterine cancer

Uterine cancer

Endometrial cancer (common) and uterine sarcoma are the two kinds of uterine cancer (rare). Endometrial cancer is frequently curable. Uterine sarcoma is more aggressive and difficult to treat than other types of uterine cancer. Learn more about uterine cancer prevention, screening, treatment, statistics, research, and clinical trials by clicking on the links on this page.

  • Endometrial cancer develops in the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus. It’s one of the most common gynecologic cancers — cancers affecting a woman’s reproductive system.
  • Uterine sarcoma develops in the myometrium, the muscle wall of the uterus. Uterine sarcomas are very rare.

Endometrial cancer is a uterine cancer that starts in the lining of the uterus. The uterus is a pear-shaped hollow pelvic organ where foetal development takes place.

Endometrial cancer starts in the layer of cells that make up the uterine lining (endometrium). Uterine cancer is another name for endometrial cancer. Other cancers, such as uterine sarcoma, can develop in the uterus, but they are far less prevalent than endometrial cancer.

Because endometrial cancer commonly causes irregular vaginal bleeding, it is frequently identified at an early stage. Endometrial cancer can frequently be cured by surgically removing the uterus if it is identified early.


Symptoms of uterine cancer

Signs of uterine cancer can resemble those of many conditions. That’s especially true of other conditions affecting reproductive organs. If you notice unusual pain, leaking or bleeding, talk to your healthcare provider. An accurate diagnosis is important so you can get the right treatment.

Symptoms of endometrial cancer or uterine sarcoma include:

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods in women before menopause.
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting in postmenopausal women, even a little amount.
  • Lower abdominal pain or cramping in the pelvis, just below the belly.
  • Thin white or clear vaginal discharge in postmenopausal women.
  • Extremely long, heavy or frequent vaginal bleeding in women older than 40.


Diagnosis of uterine cancer

Your provider may perform one or more tests to confirm a diagnosis of uterine cancer:

Lab tests:

  • CA-125 assay is a blood draw that measures CA-125, a protein. A certain amount of CA-125 can point to cancer in the body.

Imaging tests:

  • CT scans take a series of detailed pictures of the inside of the body.
  • MRI scans use radio waves and a powerful magnet to create images.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound inserts a special probe (smooth, rounded device) into the vagina to get pictures of the uterus.

Other tests:

  • Endometrial biopsy inserts a thin, flexible tube through the cervix (opening of the vagina) and into the uterus. The provider removes a small amount of the endometrium.
  • Hysteroscopy inserts a hysteroscope, a long thin tube, through the vagina and cervix to reach the uterus. This narrow instrument with a light and camera provides detailed images of the uterus.
  • Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a more complex procedure to remove uterine tissue. It takes place in the operating room.

If you had a D&C or biopsy to remove tissue samples, your provider then sends the sample to a lab. There, a pathologist looks at the tissue to confirm if there’s cancer.


Causes of uterine cancer

Endometrial cancer is caused by an unknown factor, according to doctors. What is known is that something causes changes (mutations) in the DNA of cells in the endometrium, or uterine lining.

Normal, healthy cells become aberrant as a result of the mutation. Healthy cells develop and replicate at a predetermined rate before dying at a predetermined period. Abnormal cells multiply and develop out of control, and they don’t perish at a predictable rate. The aberrant cells that are accumulating form a bulk (tumor). Cancer cells infiltrate adjacent tissues and can break out from a primary tumour to spread to other parts of the body (metastasize).


Treatment of uterine cancer

Most people with endometrial cancer need surgery. Your particular treatment plan depends on the type of cancer and your overall health. Other treatments you may have include:

  • Chemotherapy, which uses powerful drugs to destroy cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy, which sends targeted radiation beams to destroy cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy, which gives hormones or blocks them to treat cancer.
  • Immunotherapywhich helps your immune system fight cancer.
  • Targeted therapy, which uses medications to target specific cancer cells to stop them from multiplying.

Researchers continue to study more ways to treat endometrial cancer. You may qualify for a clinical trial.

Uterine cancer surgery 

Surgery is usually the main treatment for endometrial cancer. You’ll most likely have a hysterectomy, with the surgeon removing the uterus and cervix. There are three types of hysterectomy procedures:

  • Total abdominal hysterectomy: The surgeon makes an incision (cut) in the abdomen to access and remove the uterus.
  • Vaginal hysterectomy: The surgeon removes the uterus through the vagina.
  • Radical hysterectomy: If the cancer has spread to the cervix, you may need a radical hysterectomy. The surgeon removes the uterus and the tissues next to the uterus. The surgeon also removes the top part of the vagina, next to the cervix.

During a hysterectomy, surgeons often perform two other procedures as well:

  • Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO) to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Most people need this extra step to make sure all cancer gets removed.
  • Lymph node dissection to remove lymph nodes and see if the cancer has spread.


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  • January 11th, 2022

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