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Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer - What Happens

Normally, the lining of the uterus (endometrium) builds up and then sheds with each menstrual cycle. This shedding is menstrual bleeding, or a menstrual period.

But in most cases of endometrial cancer, the endometrium has built up and has not shed and thinned. The lining has remained thick. This is called endometrial hyperplasia. This is a "precancer" stage, and the cells can grow quickly and out of control. These fast-growing cells are cancer cells.

As the cancerous cells multiply, they form a mass of tissue, which can cause vaginal bleeding. Especially after menopause, this abnormal bleeding is a reason to call your doctor. Of women who have endometrial cancer after menopause, most have vaginal bleeding.

If endometrial cancer isn't treated, it may spread outside of the uterus. As it progresses, it may spread to the pelvic lymph nodes camera.gif and other pelvic organs. Advanced-stage cancer may spread to lymph nodes and on to the lungs, liver, bones, brain, and vagina.1

The long-term outcome (prognosis) depends on the stage and grade of your cancer.

    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 Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: May 08, 2013
    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.
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