Uterine and Endometrial Cancer
Expert gynecological cancer care focused on your needs.
What you need to know about uterine and endometrial cancer
Just under 3 percent of women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with uterine cancer in her lifetime. Survival rates have not changed significantly in recent years. More than 81 percent of these women survive five years or more.
Most uterine cancers start in the lining of the uterus (endometrium), and may be called “endometrial cancer.” Most are adenocarcinomas, meaning they begin in cells that make mucus and other fluids. Cancers that form in the muscle and tissue that support the uterus are called uterine sarcoma and are more rare.
Because this cancer happens inside the uterus, it does not usually show up on a Pap test, but instead is normally diagnosed after a biopsy or other procedure that remove tissue for study.
Symptoms of uterine sarcoma
The main symptom of uterine cancer is unusual vaginal bleeding or other vaginal discharge. This may be heavy bleeding during your periods, bleeding in between your periods, bleeding after sex, or bleeding after menopause. After menopause, it’s not normal for any amount of vaginal bleeding to occur. Report any abnormal bleeding to your healthcare provider right away. Finding uterine sarcoma while it’s small and before it has spread makes it easier to treat.
Other less common symptoms include:
- Pain or a feeling of fullness in the pelvic area or lower belly (abdomen)
- A mass or tumor in the vagina that you can feel
- The need to pass urine often (frequency)
These symptoms are more commonly caused by other health problems. But it’s important to see a healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have cancer.
Gynecological cancer experts
Legacy Cancer Institute, located in Portland, OR, ranks among the nation’s best cancer programs. We have a team of gynecological cancer specialists who work together to diagnose uterine and endometrial cancer, and develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Find the right provider and treatment close to home.
Legacy Cancer Institute is accredited as an integrated network cancer program by the American College of surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC). Learn more about our quality cancer care.
Our team features some of the region’s most recognized specialists.
Next steps after a uterine or endometrial cancer diagnosis
Being told you have cancer can be scary. You may have many questions. Know that you have people on your healthcare team who can help. At this point, you’ve likely had a physical exam and reviewed your health history with your provider. You may have also had a biopsy to confirm your diagnosis. Following a diagnosis of uterine cancer, you may have more tests to help your doctor understand how far your cancer may have spread and your cancer stage.
Cancer staging involves identifying where the cancer is located, if or where it has spread, and if it is affecting other parts of your body. Knowing the stage allows you and your doctor to develop your personalized treatment plan.
Some tests your doctor may now recommend include:
- CT scan, MRI or positron emission tomography (PET): Imaging technology to look inside the body.
- Lymph node dissection: Removal of lymph nodes from the pelvic area, also known as a lymphadenectomy. Tissue is removed and checked for cancer under a microscope.
- Pelvic exam: The doctor will inspect the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and rectum.
Customized treatment plans
Because each person and every cancer is different, your doctor uses your tests and exams to come up with an individual treatment plan. How long this takes depends on how complex your case is and your treatment goals. During this time, you build a relationship with your cancer doctors. You become a team for your care.
Open, honest communication can only benefit your relationship with your doctors. These tips can also help you get the most from this partnership:
- Prepare in advance: Write down your questions ahead of your visits. A few examples of smart questions:
- Why are we doing these tests?
- Why do you think this treatment is right?
- What side effects might this treatment cause?
- Find trustworthy resources: If you’re looking to learn more, rely on this website or sources your team recommends, so you can make decisions based on good information.
- Take a partner: Bringing a friend or family member to appointments can make you feel more confident and help you remember important details.
Talk to your doctor to see if a clinical trial (research study) may be right for you.
You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs.