Endometrial cancer occurs in the lining of the uterus (the womb). The cancer cells grow abnormally fast, eventually crowding out normal cells.
Surgery is the most common treatment for endometrial cancer. When the cancer is caught early, surgery can often be a cure. In some cases, additional treatment can include radiation therapy and drug therapy.
Types of endometrial cancer
Most endometrial cancer is a type called endometrioid, which tends to grow slowly. It is often found when in an early stage, limited to the uterus. Treatment often leads to a cure.
There are several subtypes of endometrioid cancer, some that are aggressive and faster-growing. The more aggressive subtypes tend to occur in women about a decade later in life than the slower growing endometrial cancer.
Diagnosing endometrial cancer
Getting a diagnosis starts at your first visit with your doctor at Stanford when you get a pelvic exam and the doctor reviews your medical history.
Your Stanford doctor will recommend diagnostic tests, including:
- Endometrial biopsy: In this procedure, the doctor inserts a tube into your uterus to a remove a sample of the cells in the lining of the uterus. The sample is sent to a pathologist, who will determine if cancer is present and, if so, what type.
- Trans-vaginal ultrasound: This is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves with a computer to make images. The ultrasound specialist uses a probe (called a transducer) both on the outside of the belly and inside the vagina to get pictures of the lining of the uterus.
- Hysteroscopy: In this procedure, your doctor will take a tiny camera and place it through the cervix into the cavity of the uterus to look directly at the tumor and the lining of the uterus.
Treatments for endometrial cancer
Treatment varies depending on the stage (or extent) of the cancer, whether it’s slow-growing, and your preferences and goals.
- Surgery is often the most effective treatment for early stages of endometrial cancer, when chances are good for a cure.
- For advanced endometrial cancer, surgery may be followed by radiation therapy and drug therapy.
Published April 2018
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