Uterine cancer begins in the lining of the uterus, the hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvis where a baby grows during pregnancy. Uterine 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.
What are the types of uterine cancer?
There are two main types of uterine cancer, which develop in different parts of the uterus.
- Endometrial cancer develops in the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. This is the most common type of uterine cancer, accounting for more than 95 percent of cases
- Uterine sarcoma is a more rare type of uterine cancer. It forms in the muscles or other tissues of the uterus
How is uterine cancer diagnosed?
Uterine cancer may not cause any symptoms in the early stages. Some women may visit their doctor after experiencing abnormal bleeding or discharge. The following tests are often the first step in making a uterine cancer diagnosis:
- Pelvic Exam – doctor manually examines the abdomen and pelvic area for any nodules or bumps. Diagnostic Ultrasound Imaging might be suggested for further investigation
- Hysteroscopy Exam – doctor uses a special lighted microscope, called a hysteroscope, to examine the uterus and identify areas to biopsy
- Endometrial biopsy – a sample of cells is removed from inside the uterus and sent to the laboratory for examination under a microscope. This procedure is typically performed in a doctor’s office.
- Dilation & Curettage (D&C) – when biopsy results are unclear, your doctor may perform a dilation and curettage (D&C). During a D&C, your doctor scrapes tissue from the lining of the uterus. You are usually asleep for this procedure.