Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Endometrial Cancer Screening (PDQ®): Screening - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the endometrium.

The endometrium is the innermost lining of the uterus. The uterus is a hollow, muscular organ in a woman's pelvis. The uterus is where a fetus grows. In most nonpregnant women, the uterus is about 3 inches long.

cdr0000609921.jpg
Anatomy of the female reproductive system. The organs in the female reproductive system include the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and vagina. The uterus has a muscular outer layer called the myometrium and an inner lining called the endometrium.

Cancer of the endometrium is different from cancer of the muscle of the uterus, which is called uterine sarcoma. See the PDQ summary on Uterine Sarcoma Treatment for more information.

See the following PDQ summaries for more information about endometrial cancer:

  • Endometrial Cancer Treatment
  • Endometrial Cancer Prevention

In the United States, endometrial cancer is the most common invasive cancer of the female reproductive system.

Endometrial cancer is diagnosed most often in postmenopausal women at an average age of 60 years.

Since 1992, the number of white women diagnosed with endometrial cancer has remained stable, but the number of new cases in black women has increased slightly. Endometrial cancer occurs more often in white women than in black women. When endometrial cancer is diagnosed in black women, it is usually more advanced and less likely to be cured. The number of deaths from endometrial cancer has stayed about the same in white women but has increased slightly in black women each year since 1998.

Health history and certain medicines can affect the risk of developing endometrial cancer.

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. Risk factors for endometrial cancer include the following:

  • Taking tamoxifen for treatment or prevention of breast cancer.
  • Taking estrogen alone. (Taking estrogen in combination with progesterone does not appear to increase the risk of endometrial cancer.)
  • Being overweight.
  • Eating a high-fat diet.
  • Never giving birth.
  • Beginning menstruation at an early age.
  • Reaching menopause at an older age.
  • Having the gene for hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC).
  • Being white.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: September 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    A common one in both men and women.
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Do you know the symptoms?
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article