Endometrial cancer is cancer that starts in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus (womb).
Endometrial adenocarcinoma; Uterine adenocarcinoma; Uterine cancer; Adenocarcinoma – endometrium; Adenocarcinoma – uterus; Cancer – uterine; Cancer – endometrial; Uterine corpus cancer
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer. Although the exact cause of endometrial cancer is unknown, increased levels of estrogen appear to play a role. Estrogen helps stimulate the buildup of the lining of the uterus. Studies have shown that high levels of estrogen in animals result in excessive endometrial growth and
Most cases of endometrial cancer occur between the ages of 60 and 70 years, but a few cases may occur before age 40.
The following increase your risk of endometrial cancer:
Estrogen replacement therapy without the use of progesterone
Infertility(inability to become pregnant)
Tamoxifen, a drug for breast cancer treatment
Never being pregnant
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Starting menstruation at an early age (before age 12)
menopauseafter age 50
Associated conditions include the following:
Colon or breast cancer
High blood pressure
Polycystic ovarian disease
Symptoms of endometrial cancer include:
- Abnormal bleeding from the vagina, including bleeding between periods or spotting/bleeding after menopause
- Extremely long, heavy, or frequent episodes of vaginal bleeding after age 40
abdominal painor pelvic cramping
- Thin white or clear vaginal discharge after menopause
Signs and tests
A pelvic examination is frequently normal, especially in the early stages of disease. Changes in the size, shape, or feel of the uterus or surrounding structures may be seen when the disease is more advanced.
Tests that may be done include:
- Dilation and curettage (
D and C) Pap smear(may raise a suspicion for endometrial cancer, but does not diagnose it)
If cancer is found, other tests may be done to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This is called staging.
Stages of endometrial cancer:
- The cancer is only in the uterus.
- The cancer is in the uterus and
- The cancer has spread outside of the uterus but not beyond the true pelvis area. Cancer may involve the lymph nodes in the pelvis or near the aorta (the major artery in the abdomen).
- The cancer has spread to the inner surface of the bowel, bladder, abdomen, or other organs.
Cancer is also described as Grade 1, 2, or 3. Grade 1 is the least aggressive, and grade 3 is the most aggressive.
Treatment options involve surgery,
Removal of the uterus (
Total robotic or
Surgery combined with radiation therapy is often used to treat women with stage 1 disease that has a high chance of returning, has spread to the lymph nodes, or is a grade 2 or 3. It is also used to treat women with stage 2 disease.
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Endometrial cancer is usually diagnosed at an early stage. The 1-year survival rate is about 92%.
The 5-year survival rate for endometrial cancer that has not spread is 95%. If the cancer has spread to distant organs, the 5-year survival rate drops to 23%.
Complications may include anemia due to blood loss. A perforation (hole) of the uterus may occur during a D and C or
There can also be complications from hysterectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have abnormal vaginal bleeding or any other symptoms of endometrial cancer.
Any of the following symptoms should be reported immediately to the doctor:
- Bleeding or spotting after intercourse or douching
- Bleeding lasting longer than 7 days
- Periods that occur every 21 days or sooner
- Bleeding or spotting after 1 year or more of no bleeding after menopause
There is no effective screening test for endometrial (uterine) cancer. Women with any risk factors for endometrial cancer should be followed closely by their doctors. Frequent pelvic examinations and screening tests such as a Pap smear and endometrial biopsy may be considered in some cases.
Use of birth control pills for over a year reduces the risk of endometrial cancer. Women who are taking estrogen replacement therapy without progesterone therapy or who have taken tamoxifen for more than 2 years have an increased risk of endometrial cancer and should have regular pelvic examinations and Pap smears.
Related:Hysterectomy – abdominal – discharge, Hysterectomy – laparoscopic – discharge, Hysterectomy – vaginal – discharge , Pelvic (between the hips) radiation – discharge, Epithelium, Hyperplasia, Cancer, Overweight, High blood pressure, Polycystic ovary syndrome, Infertility, Menopause, Cervical polyps, Benign, Endometrial biopsy