Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer

The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. Sometimes there is abnormal growth of cells in this lining. This abnormal growth is called endometrial cancer. This cancer usually occurs in women older than age 50. It causes heavy or unusual vaginal bleeding.

This cancer is also called uterine cancer.

Endometrial cancer usually occurs in women older than 50. The good news is that it is usually cured when it is found early. And most of the time, the cancer is found in its earliest stage, before it has spread outside the uterus.

What causes endometrial cancer?

The most common cause of type I endometrial cancer is having too much of the hormone estrogen compared to the hormone progesterone in the body. This hormone imbalance causes the lining of the uterus to get thicker and thicker. If the lining builds up and stays that way, then cancer cells can start to grow.

Women who have this hormone imbalance over time may be more likely to get endometrial cancer after age 50. This hormone imbalance can happen if a woman:

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of endometrial cancer include:

  • Bleeding or vaginal discharge not related to your period (menstruation).
  • Difficult or painful urination.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Pelvic pain.
How is endometrial cancer diagnosed?

Endometrial cancer is usually diagnosed with a biopsy. In this test, the doctor removes a small sample of the lining of the uterus to look for cancer cells.

How is it treated?

Endometrial cancer in its early stages can be cured. The main treatment is surgery to remove the uterus plus the cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. This is called a hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. The doctor may also remove pelvic and aortic lymph nodes  to see if the cancer has spread.

A woman whose cancer has spread may also have:

It’s common to feel scared, sad, or angry after finding out that you have endometrial cancer. Talking to others who have had the disease may help you feel better. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area.

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