Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer

There are two main types of uterine cancer. Endometrial cancer, often called uterine cancer, is the most common type, accounting for about 95 percent of all uterine cancer. It’s also the most common gynecologic cancer in the United States, with about 60,000 cases diagnosed annually. White women are more likely to develop uterine cancer.

Endometrial cancer occurs in the lining (endometrium) of the uterus and typically in women age 50 or older. Medical experts believe that too much of the female hormone estrogen may trigger cancer cells to grow in the uterus.

Another type of uterine cancer, although very rare, is uterine sarcoma which forms in the uterine muscles or in tissues that support the uterus.

Our Premier Health board-certified gynecologic oncologists specialize in cancers of female reproductive organs and will guide you through every step of diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care.

Detection and Prevention

The American Cancer Society recommends at the time of menopause that all women be told about the risks and symptoms for endometrial cancer. Finding endometrial cancer early, when it’s most treatable, is your best defense.

Your endometrial, or uterine, cancer risk may be higher if you:

  • Are past menopause or over age 60
  • Take estrogen without progesterone
  • Take tamoxifen (a drug used to treat and prevent breast cancer)
  • Have endometrial hyperplasia (excessive growth of endometrial cells)
  • Had early onset menstrual periods or late menopause
  • Have never given birth
  • Are obese
  • Have a personal of family history of Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer) or polycystic ovary disease

An endometrial hyperplasia diagnosis does not mean you have endometrial cancer. However the condition should be monitored and in some cases, treated with hormone therapy or surgery to lower your endometrial cancer risk.

Standard or routine endometrial cancer screening tests do not exist. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with or have a family history of Lynch syndrome, talk to your doctor about screening and diagnostic options.

The most common endometrial, or uterine, cancer symptoms are:

  • Bleeding or vaginal discharge not related to your menstrual period
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause*
  • Pain during sex
  • Pelvic pain

The below could be symptoms of uterine sarcoma or other, less serious conditions. Consult your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Bleeding that is not part of menstrual periods
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause*
  • A mass in the vagina
  • Pain or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen
  • Frequent urination

* Postmenopausal bleeding is never normal and should be evaluated by your doctor as soon as possible.

Diagnosis

Uterine cancer diagnosis involves a combination of investigative methods that help us understand your specific cancer and plan treatment. These may include pelvic exam, tissue biopsy, and varied advanced imaging tools.

An endometrial tissue biopsy is a procedure that removes a small tissue sample of the lining of your uterus to check for cancer cells.

Treatment

We’ll consider the type, size, and stage of your uterine cancer, plus your age and overall health, to recommend one or more of the following treatment strategies:

  • Surgery to remove the primary (main) cancer tumor or other tumors
  • Chemotherapy/radiation therapy to kill or stop the growth or spread of cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy/radiation therapy to prevent or delay your cancer's return
  • Symptom management for pain or other cancer-related symptoms

At Premier Health, our team has extensive experience in endometrial cancer treatment. The main treatment for cancers that have not metastasized (spread) is hysterectomy to remove the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. The extent of what’s removed will depend on how much of your reproductive system has been affected by endometrial cancer.

In some cases, we also may perform a lymphadenectomy, a surgery that removes lymph nodes to help reduce the spread of cancer. A lymphadenectomy may be done as part of a hysterectomy or if cancer cells are found in certain lymph nodes removed in an earlier surgery.

Our board-certified gynecologic oncologists offer traditional surgery as well as advanced, minimally invasive surgical techniques, including robotic-assisted surgery.

Surgery is often combined with continuously advancing medical therapies and/or radiation therapy, especially when cancer has spread beyond the uterus. These therapies are highly customized to fight your specific cancer.

Hormone therapy is another treatment option. Some uterine tumors need hormones to grow. If lab tests show that your uterine tumor is one of these, you’ll be given medicine to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells by preventing hormones from reaching them.

We approach uterine sarcoma treatment using many of these same treatment strategies, depending on the stage and grade of your tumor.

After uterine cancer treatment, we’ll continue to monitor your recovery through follow-up exams and testing.

Keeping You Safe During COVID-19

You will find new safety measures in place when you schedule appointments and come to our facilities — all with the goal of keeping you safe as we care for you.

Contact Us

Our cancer team is here for you. Our cancer specialists have access to nationally recognized cancer care protocols and best practices, since Premier Health is a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center. Our patients benefit from advanced local care backed by the world-renowned expertise of the nation’s leading cancer center. 

Call the Premier Health cancer hotline at (844) 316-HOPE(844) 316-4673 (4673), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to connect with a Premier Health cancer navigator.