Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer - Exams and Tests
Most cases of
endometrial cancer are diagnosed in an early stage.
This is because women who have reached
menopause usually see their doctors when they have
vaginal bleeding. To check your symptoms, your doctor will perform a
medical history and physical exam. The physical exam
will include a
pelvic exam and
endometrial biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of
endometrial cancer. A biopsy removes a small sample of the lining of the uterus
(endometrium) for examination under a microscope.
transvaginal pelvic ultrasound, which uses sound waves
to create images of the uterus. The images can show how thick the endometrium
is. A thick endometrium can be a sign of cancer in
postmenopausal women. Ultrasound also can help show
whether cancer has grown into the uterine muscle (myometrium).
hysteroscopy, which allows your doctor to view the
inside of the uterus and obtain an endometrial tissue sample.
Dilation and curettage (D&C), which is done to
obtain a sample of tissue from the inside of the uterus. A D&C is sometimes
done at the same time as a hysteroscopy.
Testing for endometrial cancer may show that you have
endometrial hyperplasia. This is not cancer but may
develop into cancer. One type of hyperplasia, atypical adenomatous hyperplasia,
progresses to cancer in about 1 out of 3 women.1
Tests to find out the extent (stage) of endometrial cancer include:
Your doctor will determine the stage of your cancer at
the time of your surgery. Other tests done before surgery may include:
An imaging test may be done before surgery to look for
spread (metastasis) of cancer in the abdomen and pelvis. This helps with
planning for treatment. Imaging tests include the following:
After endometrial cancer is confirmed, surgery is usually
done to remove the uterus,
fallopian tubes. This is called a
hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.
pelvic lymph nodes are also removed. The removed tissue is examined to find out
the stage and grade of cancer.
There is no early detection test
for endometrial cancer. If you have
abnormal vaginal bleeding, schedule an appointment
with your doctor for a medical evaluation. Unexpected bleeding, or more
bleeding than normal, can be a symptom of endometrial cancer.
The American Cancer Society advises women who are nearing menopause to learn
about the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer.4
- Women are advised to report to their doctors
any unexpected bleeding or spotting or unusual vaginal
- Women at risk for
hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) are
advised to get checked every year starting at age 35.4 These women also have a high risk of getting ovarian and
uterine cancer. High-risk women who have no pregnancy plans can avoid these
cancers by having the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries removed (hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy).5