About Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer
Uterine cancer, or endometrial cancer, is the most common of the gynecologic cancers. The lifetime incidence of endometrial cancer in the U.S. is 1 to 2 percent, and typically occurs in women after menopause.
While there is no known cause of uterine cancer, there are some identified factors that increase a woman’s risk of developing a uterine cancer, including women with increased levels of natural estrogen. Other factors could include:
- Women who have never gotten pregnant or cannot bear children due to infertility
- Women who had their first period at an early age
- Women who stopped having their periods at a late age
- Women who have a history of endometrial polyps
- Postmenopausal women who use estrogen-replacement therapy
- Women who are overweight
Women who fall into these risk categories should be closely monitored by their physician. Symptoms can include abnormal uterine bleeding, pain during sexual intercourse, difficult or painful urination, or pelvic pain. If you experience any of these symptoms be sure to talk to your physician.
Uterine Cancer Screening & Diagnosis
There is no standard method for screening for uterine cancer. However, all women should have an annual gynecologic examination, including a careful pelvic examination. Symptoms of post menopausal bleeding or bleeding between periods can be due to an endometrial cancer and will prompt a physician to evaluate the uterine lining by biopsy, otherwise known as a endometrial biopsy. Changes in the size shape or consistency of the uterus or its surrounding, supporting structures may exist when the disease is more advanced.
Should your physician suspect uterine cancer, your doctor may perform one of either a pap smear, an endometrial biopsy of the lining of the uterus, or a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure. A D&C is a surgical procedure in which a small instrument called a curette through the vagina into the uterus and scraping the endometrium (lining of the uterus).
If a diagnosis of uterine cancer is made, your physician then determines the severity or stage of the cancer, including whether it has spread within the uterus or to other areas of the body. Each cancer type has its own classification system.
NorthShore University HealthSystem physicians and the team at the Kellogg Cancer Center work collaboratively and are dedicated to putting patients and families at the center of a healthcare experience that delivers compassionate, quality care.
Every week, our multidisciplinary team meets to discuss each patient’s case in detail and to design a personalized treatment plan. Your team may include your medical oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist, genetics counselor, pathologist, nutritionist, interventional radiologist and researchers focused on you. This meeting of the minds provides each patient with an individualized care plant to create the path for the most optimal outcome. Our approach emphasizes open communication, collaborating with each other personally and through one of the most advanced electronic medical records systems in the country.