Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, develops in the tissue that that lines the uterus. Uterine cancer most often affects women who are over the age of 55. It is the most common gynecologic cancer. Most patients with endometrial cancer require a complex surgical evaluation and hysterectomy, but generally do not require chemotherapy or radiation.

Risk Factors for Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer is often linked with an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which can be linked to risk factors including:

  • Late menopause
  • No pregnancies
  • Estrogen replacement therapy (without progesterone) after menopause
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Ovarian or breast cancer
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), an inherited cancer of the large intestine

However, some women who develop uterine cancer have no risk factors.

Symptoms of Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer often has no symptoms in the early stages. However, notify your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following:

  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding or non-bloody discharge, especially after menopause
  • Pelvic pain
  • The sensation of a mass in the pelvic area
  • Unexplained weight loss

While these symptoms may be related to several non-serious conditions, it’s a good idea to have your doctor check them out as soon as possible to determine the cause.

Uterine Cancer Detection & Diagnosis

There are no early screening exams for uterine cancer. If your doctor determines that you should be tested, you may have one or more of these exams to detect and diagnose endometrial cancer:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the uterus, which is reviewed for abnormalities.
  • Endometrial biopsy removes a small tissue sample from the endometrium to be examined under a microscope.
  • Hysteroscopy uses a small lighted telescope to allow the doctor to view the inside of the uterus and take a tissue sample if necessary.

Uterine Cancer Treatment

Depending on how advanced it is, treatment options for uterine cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and radiation therapy. A hysterectomy, surgery to remove the uterus, is the most common treatment. If cancerous cells have spread beyond the uterus, additional treatments may be needed.

Comprehensive, Patient-centered Care

At Mercy, we know learning you have cancer can be frightening, and we’re here to support you. Your entire Mercy team is committed to providing expert, compassionate care -- not just for your physical health, but for your emotional and spiritual wellness too. It is our mission to get you back to doing all the things you love.

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