Uterine Cancer: What You Need to Know

Early diagnosis of endometrial cancer leads to good outcomes

Uterine cancer can start in different parts of the uterus. Most uterine cancers start in the inner lining of the uterus – the endometrium. This is called endometrial cancer. Most endometrial cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make mucus and other fluids).

A less common form of uterine cancer is uterine sarcoma. Uterine sarcoma forms in the muscle and tissue that support the uterus. 

The sooner endometrial cancer is found, the better the outcomes. However, the five-year survival rate of all endometrial cancer patients is 81.3 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.

  • • Endometrial cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the United States.
  • 710,228 women are living with endometrial cancer in the United States. (2014)
  • • 61,380 is the estimated number of new cases diagnosed in the United States by the end of 2017.
  • • When diagnosed early, the survival rate for endometrial cancer is over 95 percent.
  • • 55 – 64 is the age range when most women are diagnosed with endometrial cancer.

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Risk factors

•   Who is at risk for endometrial cancer?

A number of factors are linked to an increased risk of endometrial cancer. These include obesity, exposure to estrogens, tamoxifen use and other certain hereditary conditions. Other risk factors:

  • - Having endometrial hyperplasia
  • - Never giving birth
  • - Beginning menstruation before age 12
  • - Going through menopause after age 55
  • - Having a history of radiation therapy to the pelvis
  • - Family history, with a mother, sister or daughter who had endometrial cancer

Family cancer syndromes: genetic predisposition

Endometrial cancer tends to run in some families, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Women in families who have an inherited tendency to develop Lynch syndrome, a colon cancer, are more likely to develop endometrial cancer.

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Hormone factors

Hormone balance plays a part in the development of most endometrial cancers. Many of the risk factors for endometrial cancer affect estrogen levels. Before menopause, the ovaries are the major source of the two main types of female hormones – estrogen and progesterone. A small amount of estrogen is made naturally in fat tissue and plays a role in endometrial cancer after menopause.

Estrogen therapy, birth control pills, the number of menstrual cycles throughout a woman's lifetime, pregnancy and other factors that may impact a woman's hormone balance can also play a role. Source: ACS


Personal history

Women who have had breast or ovarian cancer may have an increased risk of developing endometrial cancer.  Another risk factor is diabetes. Women with diabetes are four times as likely as those who do not have diabetes to have endometrial cancer.


Other factors

The risk for endometrial cancer goes up as a woman ages. Women with a high-fat diet have an increased risk of endometrial cancer, as well. Physical activity lowers the risk. Controlling weight by choosing a healthy diet and lifestyle including exercise can improve your overall health, in addition to lowering your cancer risk.



Who is at risk for uterine sarcoma?

Only a few factors are known to change the risk of developing a uterine sarcoma. They include past pelvic radiation therapy, race and previously being diagnosed with the eye cancer, retinoblastoma. Learn more.





Signs and symptoms of endometrial cancer

Endometrial cancer’s main symptom is unusual vaginal bleeding. This occurs in up to 90% of women. The bleeding to watch for may include:

  • Changes in kind of bleeding between periods or irregular bleeding
• Any vaginal bleeding after menopause
 • Pelvic pain or pressure, a lump in the pelvic area or lower belly
•  Pain when urinating
Pain during sex is a symptom of endometrial cancer.
•  Pain during sexual intercourse
 • Unintentional weight loss

If any of the above symptoms are new and persist for more than two weeks, see your physician. To make an appointment, call 913-588-1227 or toll-free 844-323-1227.