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Cancer Health Center

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Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer - Topic Overview

This topic provides information about cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrium). It does not cover cancer in the muscle of the uterus, which is called uterine sarcoma. This topic focuses on type I endometrial cancer, which is the most common kind of uterine cancer.

Endometrial cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the uterus camera.gif. The lining is called the endometrium. Endometrial cancer is also called cancer of the uterus, or uterine cancer.

Endometrial cancer usually occurs in women older than 50. The good news is that it is usually cured when it is found early. And most of the time, the cancer is found in its earliest stage, before it has spread outside the uterus.

The most common cause of type I endometrial cancer is having too much of the hormone estrogen compared to the hormone progesterone in the body. This hormone imbalance causes the lining of the uterus to get thicker and thicker. If the lining builds up and stays that way, then cancer cells can start to grow.

Women who have this hormone imbalance over time may be more likely to get endometrial cancer after age 50.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Bleeding or vaginal discharge not related to your period (menstruation).
  • Pain during sex.
  • Pelvic pain.

Endometrial cancer is usually diagnosed with a biopsy. In this test, the doctor removes a small sample of the lining of the uterus to look for cancer cells.

The main treatment for endometrial cancer is surgery to remove the uterus plus the cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. This is called a hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Other treatments include radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or chemotherapy.

Finding out that you have cancer can change your life. You may feel like your world has turned upside down and you have lost all control. Talking with family, friends, or a counselor can really help. Ask your doctor about support groups. Or call the American Cancer Society (1-800-227-2345) or visit its website at www.cancer.org.

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