What is the definition of Endometrial Cancer?

Endometrial cancer is cancer that starts in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus (womb).

What are the alternative names for Endometrial Cancer?

Endometrial adenocarcinoma; Uterine adenocarcinoma; Uterine cancer; Adenocarcinoma - endometrium; Adenocarcinoma - uterus; Cancer - uterine; Cancer - endometrial; Uterine corpus cancer

What are the causes for Endometrial Cancer?

Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer. The exact cause of endometrial cancer is not known. An increased level of estrogen hormone may play a role. This stimulates the buildup of the lining of the uterus. This can lead to abnormal overgrowth of the endometrium and cancer.

Most cases of endometrial cancer occur between the ages of 60 and 70. A few cases may occur before age 40.

The following factors related to your hormones increase your risk for endometrial cancer:

  • Estrogen replacement therapy without the use of progesterone
  • History of endometrial polyps
  • Infrequent periods
  • Never being pregnant
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Starting menstruation at an early age (before age 12)
  • Starting menopause after age 50
  • Tamoxifen, a drug used for breast cancer treatment

Women with the following conditions also seem to be at a higher risk for endometrial cancer:

  • Colon or breast cancer
  • Gallbladder disease
  • High blood pressure

What are the symptoms for Endometrial Cancer?

Symptoms of endometrial cancer include:

  • Abnormal bleeding from the vagina, including bleeding between periods or spotting/bleeding after menopause
  • Extremely long, heavy, or frequent episodes of vaginal bleeding after age 40
  • Lower abdominal pain or pelvic cramping

What are the current treatments for Endometrial Cancer?

Treatment options include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy) may be done in women with early stage 1 cancer. The doctor may also remove the tubes and ovaries.

Surgery combined with radiation therapy is another treatment option. It is often used for women with:

  • Stage 1 disease that has a high chance of returning, has spread to the lymph nodes, or is a grade 2 or 3
  • Stage 2 disease

Chemotherapy or hormonal therapy may be considered in some cases, most often for those with stage 3 and 4 disease.

What are the support groups for Endometrial Cancer?

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Endometrial Cancer?

Endometrial cancer is usually diagnosed at an early stage.

If the cancer has not spread, 95% of women are alive after 5 years. If the cancer has spread to distant organs, about 25% of women are still alive after 5 years.

What are the possible complications for Endometrial Cancer?

Complications may include any of the following:

  • Anemia due to blood loss (before diagnosis)
  • Perforation (hole) of the uterus, which may occur during a D and C or endometrial biopsy
  • Problems from surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy

When should I contact a medical professional for Endometrial Cancer?

Call for an appointment with your provider if you have any of the following:

  • Any bleeding or spotting that occurs after the onset of menopause
  • Bleeding or spotting after intercourse or douching
  • Bleeding lasting longer than 7 days
  • Irregular menstrual cycles that occur twice per month
  • New discharge after menopause has begun
  • Pelvic pain or cramping that does not go away

How do I prevent Endometrial Cancer?

There is no effective screening test for endometrial (uterine) cancer.

Women with risk factors for endometrial cancer should be followed closely by their doctors. This includes women who are taking:

  • Estrogen replacement therapy without progesterone therapy
  • Tamoxifen for more than 2 years

Frequent pelvic exams, Pap smears, vaginal ultrasounds, and endometrial biopsy may be considered in some cases.

The risk for endometrial cancer is reduced by:

  • Maintaining a normal weight
  • Using birth control pills for over a year
Pelvic laparoscopy
Female reproductive anatomy
D and C
Endometrial biopsy
Hysterectomy
Uterus
Endometrial cancer

REFERENCES

Armstrong DK. Gynecologic cancers. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 189.

Boggess JF, Kilgore JE, Tran A-Q. Uterine cancer. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 85.

Morice P, Leary A, Creutzberg C, Abu-Rustum N, Darai E. Endometrial cancer. Lancet. 2016;387(10023):1094-1108. PMID: 26354523 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26354523/.

National Cancer Institute website. Endometrial cancer treatment treatment (PDQ)-health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/uterine/hp/endometrial-treatment-pdq. Updated December 17, 2019. Accessed March 24, 2020.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network website. NCCN clinical practice guidelines in oncology (NCCN guidelines): uterine neoplasms. Version 1.2020. www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/uterine.pdf. Updated March 6, 2020. Accessed March 24, 2020.

  • Condition: Endometrial Cancer
  • Journal: International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics
  • Treatment Used: Chemoradiation Therapy (CRT)
  • Number of Patients: 11315
  • Published —
This study evaluated chemoradiation therapy (CRT) in the treatment of patients with endometrial cancer.