Endometrial & Uterine Cancer
Most uterine cancers begin in the lining of the uterus (endometrium). The endometrium is the tissue shed each month with the menstrual cycle. In the most common type of uterine cancer, called endometrial adenocarcinoma, cells in the endometrial lining grow out of control, may invade the muscular wall of the uterus and sometimes spread outside of the uterus (ovaries, lymph nodes, abdominal cavity).
Uterine sarcomas represent a type of uterine cancer in which malignant cells form in the muscle of the uterus (leiomyosarcoma) or in the network of support cells in the uterine lining (endometrial stromal sarcomas and carcinosarcomas). Accounting for fewer than five percent of all uterine cancers, uterine sarcomas are much less common than endometrial cancer, but have a much more aggressive clinical behavior. These cancers can spread quickly to distant sites.
The most common uterine cancer is endometrial cancer, and it is the most common gynecologic cancer.
Uterine cancer usually occurs around the time of menopause, but younger women also are at risk.
There is no screening test for endometrial cancer.
NOTE: The Pap test only screens for cervical cancer and DOES NOT screen for uterine cancer.
Risk factors for endometrial cancer include:
Taking estrogen alone without progesterone
Use of tamoxifen
Late menopause (after age 52)
Never becoming pregnant
A family history of endometrial or colon cancer
Listen to your body for these symptoms
Abnormal vaginal bleeding; younger women should note irregular or heavy vaginal bleeding
Bleeding after menopause. Even brown spotting or a single spot of blood from the vagina is abnormal after menopause and should lead to a prompt gynecologic evaluation.
If you experience these symptoms, you should have a biopsy of the endometrium to check for uterine cancer.
You can reduce your risk of uterine cancer by taking these steps:
Keep your blood pressure and blood sugar under control
Manage your weight
If you have an endometrial biopsy that shows endometrial cancer, seek care from a gynecologic oncologist.