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Gynaecologic Problems: Endometrial Cancer


The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium . Cancer of the endometrium, a common kind of cancer in women, is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the endometrium. Endometroid cancer is a specific type of endometrial cancer.

Cancer of the endometrium is different from cancer of the muscle of the uterus, which is called sarcoma of the uterus. Nearly all endometrial cancers are adenocarcinomas (75%).

For information on the other main cancers to affect the female reproductive system go here .

Risk Factors

The following have been suggested as risk factors for endometrial cancer:

  • Starting monthly periods early, i.e. before the age of 12.
  • Late menopause .
  • Infertility .
  • Never having children.
  • Obesity, 13 kilos/30 pounds or more overweight.
  • Being treated with tamoxifen for breast cancer.
  • Oestrogen replacement therapy (ERT) for treatment of effects of menopause.
  • Diet high in animal fat.
  • Diabetes .
  • Age 40 or over.
  • Caucasian women.
  • High-socioeconomic status.
  • Family history.
  • History of breast cancer.
  • History of ovarian cancer .
  • Prior radiation therapy for pelvic cancer.

Symptoms and Signs

Consult a physician if you experience any/all of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding or discharge not related to your periods ( menstruation ).
  • Post-menopausal bleeding.
  • Difficult or painful urination.
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Pain and/or mass in the pelvic area.
  • Weight loss.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis includes a medical history and physical exam, including a pelvic exam to feel the vagina, rectum, and lower abdomen for masses or growths. A Pap test may be requested as part of the pelvic exam. Several additional tests may be used to diagnose endometrial cancer, including:

  • Internal pelvic examination to feel for any lumps or changes in the shape of the uterus.
  • Pap test (however, because cancer of the endometrium begins inside the uterus, problems may not show up on a Pap test.)
  • Dilatation and curettage (D&C) and/or endometrial biopsy or similar test, to remove pieces of the lining of the uterus
  • Transvaginal ultrasound
  • Sonography

Prognosis (chances of recovery) and choice of treatment depend on the stage of cancer, whether it is just in the endometrium, or has spread to other parts of the uterus or other parts of the body, and an individual's general health.

Generally, treatment for patients with cancer of the endometrium includes one or more of the following:

  • Surgery , including: Simple hysterectomy, Radical hysterectomy, Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, Pelvic lymph node dissection and Laparoscopic lymph node sampling.
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Other

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. Motherisk, The Hospital for Sick Children:

Other HON resources 
   From MedHunt

Cancer in women
    From HONselect
     (def;articles & more)   



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Contact Last modified: Jun 25 2002