Cancer that forms in the tissue lining the uterus (the small, hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman's pelvis in which a fetus develops). Most endometrial cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).
Estimated new cases and deaths from endometrial (uterine corpus) cancer in the United States in 2012:
|New cases: 47,130|
Diagnosing endometrial cancer
Tests and procedures used to diagnose endometrial cancer include:
- Examining you for abnormalities. During a pelvic exam, your doctor carefully inspects the outer portion of your genitals (vulva), and then inserts two fingers of one hand into your vagina and simultaneously presses the other hand on your abdomen to feel your uterus and ovaries. He or she also inserts a device called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum opens your vagina so that your doctor can view your vagina and cervix for abnormalities.
- Using sound waves to create a picture of your uterus. Your doctor may recommend a transvaginal ultrasound to look at the thickness and texture of the endometrium and help rule out other conditions. In this procedure, a wand-like device (transducer) is inserted into your vagina. The transducer uses sound waves to create a video image of your uterus. This test helps your doctor look for abnormalities in your uterine lining.
- Using a scope to examine your endometrium. During a hysteroscopy, your doctor inserts a thin, flexible, lighted tube (hysteroscope) through your vagina and cervix into your uterus. A lens on the hysteroscope allows your doctor to examine the inside of your uterus and the endometrium.
- Removing a sample of tissue for testing. To get a sample of cells from inside your uterus, you'll likely undergo an endometrial biopsy. This involves removing tissue from your uterine lining for laboratory analysis. This may be done in your doctor's office and usually doesn't require anesthesia.
- Performing surgery to remove tissue for testing. If enough tissue can't be obtained during a biopsy or if the biopsy results are unclear, you'll likely need to undergo a procedure called dilation and curettage (D&C). During D&C, tissue is scraped from the lining of your uterus and examined under a microscope for cancer cells. D&C usually requires general anesthesia, so you won't be aware during the procedure.
Tissue microarray immunohistochemical expression analysis is the newest test. issue microarray technology allows molecular profiling of tumor samples at the DNA, RNA, and protein levels..
Staging endometrial cancer
Once your cancer has been diagnosed, your doctor works to determine the extent, or stage, of your cancer. Tests used to determine your cancer's stage include a chest X-ray, a computerized tomography (CT) scan and blood tests. The final determination of your cancer's stage may not be made until after you undergo surgery to treat your cancer.
Stages of endometrial cancer include:
- Stage I cancer is found only in your uterus.
- Stage II cancer is present in both the uterus and cervix.
- Stage III cancer has spread beyond the uterus, but hasn't reached the rectum and bladder. The pelvic area lymph nodes may be involved.
- Stage IV cancer has spread past the pelvic region and can affect the bladder, rectum and more distant parts of your body.