Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the uterus, also known as the womb. The lower portion of the uterus that is closest to the vagina is called the cervix. When cancer develops in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. The walls of the uterus that do not include the cervix are made of two types of lining. The endometrium is the inner lining and the myometrium is the muscular, outer lining. The most common type of uterine cancer, called adenocarcinoma, begins in the endometrium. Less common cancers, called sarcomas, begin in the myometrium. This fact sheet will focus on endometrial cancer. Cancer occurs when cells in the body, in this case uterus cells, divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms, called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors, which can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor does not invade or spread.

  • Causes

    The exact cause of uterine cancer is unknown. Exposure to estrogen seems to be strongly related to the development of this cancer.

  • Definition

    Uterine cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the uterus, also known as the womb.


    The lower portion of the uterus that is closest to the vagina is called the cervix. When cancer develops in the cervix, it is called
    cervical cancer.

    The walls of the uterus that do not include the cervix are made of two types of lining. The endometrium is the inner lining and the myometrium is the muscular, outer lining. The most common type of uterine cancer, called adenocarcinoma, begins in the endometrium. Less common cancers, called sarcomas, begin in the myometrium.
    This fact sheet will focus on endometrial cancer.

    Uterine Cancer
    Uterine Cancer
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Cancer occurs when cells in the body, in this case uterus cells, divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms, called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to
    malignant tumors, which can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body. A
    benign tumor
    does not invade or spread.

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A pelvic exam of the vagina, uterus, ovaries, bladder, and rectum will be done.

    Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests
    • Pap test
    • Biopsy of the uterine lining
    • Dilation and curettage (D&C)

  • Prevention


    All women should have yearly pelvic exams to monitor any changes that may signal cancer. Using
    oral birth control
    may protect against uterine cancer.

  • Risk Factors


    Factors that increase your chance of developing endometrial cancer include:

    • Age: 50-60 years old
    • Obesity—especially in women experiencing menopause before age 45
    • High blood pressure
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome
    • Endometrial polyps
    • Infertility
    • No history of pregnancy
    • Early start of menstrual periods

    • Late
      menopause—longer exposure to estrogen
    • Diabetes
    • Environment: living in an urban area

  • Symptoms


    If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to uterine cancer. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions.

    • Abnormal bleeding between menstrual periods
    • Vaginal bleeding or spotting in postmenopausal women
    • Pain in the pelvic area
    • Pain during urination
    • Pain during intercourse

  • Treatment


    After uterine cancer is found, staging tests are done to find out if the cancer has spread and, if so, to what parts of the body. Treatments for uterine cancer depend on the stage of the cancer.
    Special instructions will be given to you about your treatment.

    Treatments include: