Uterine cancer most often starts in the lining of the uterus (endometrium) and can be called endometrial cancer. When cancer grows in the muscles or other supporting tissues in the uterus it is called uterine sarcomas. Uterine sarcomas account for only a small portion of uterine cancer.
Uterine Cancer: What You Need to Know
Experienced, Trusted Expertise
The University of Vermont Medical Center's physicians are highly trained in caring for women with uterine cancer. Our knowledgeable doctors treat about 250 gynecology inpatients each year.
Cancer is scary. We partner with you and tailor your care to your specific situation. We also offer a wide variety of educational information so you understand what is happening and why.
Our team uses the most advanced techniques and equipment to treat uterine cancer. We offer robotic surgery for uterine cancer treatment because this minimally invasive procedure reduces your pain and shortens recovery.
Uterine Cancer Symptoms
Uterine cancer usually happens after menopause: it may also occur around the time that menopause begins. The most common uterine cancer symptom is abnormal vaginal bleeding. Bleeding may start as a watery, blood-streaked flow that gradually contains more blood. Women should not assume that abnormal vaginal bleeding is part of menopause.
A woman should see her doctor if she has any of the following symptoms:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Difficult or painful urination
- Pain during sex
- Pain in the pelvic area
These symptoms can be uterine cancer or other less serious conditions. Most often they are not uterine cancer, but only a doctor can determine why you are experiencing these symptoms and if they are linked to something serious.
What is Uterine Cancer?
Uterine cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system in the United States. It accounts for six percent of all cancers in women in this country.
Uterine cancer risk factors include:
- Age - Uterine cancer happens mostly in women over age 50.
- Endometrial hyperplasia - An abnormal condition where the lining of the uterus overgrows due to overstimulation from estrogen.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) - HRT is used to control the symptoms of menopause, to prevent osteoporosis, and to reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke. Women who use estrogen without progesterone have an increased risk of uterine cancer.
- Obesity and related conditions - The body makes some of its estrogen in fatty tissue. That's why obese women are more likely to have higher levels of estrogen in their bodies, and that may increase their risk of developing uterine cancer. The risk of this disease is also higher in women with diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Tamoxifen - Women taking the drug tamoxifen to prevent or treat breast cancer have an increased risk of uterine cancer. This risk appears to be related to the estrogen-like effect of this drug on the uterus. Doctors monitor women taking tamoxifen for possible signs or symptoms of uterine cancer.
- Race - White women are more likely than African-American women to get uterine cancer.
- Colorectal cancer - Women who have had an inherited form of colorectal cancer have a higher risk of developing uterine cancer than other women.
- Other risk factors - Relate to how long a woman's body is exposed to estrogen. Women have a higher risk who:
- Have no children
- Begin menstruation at a very young age
- Enter menopause late in life
Uterine Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
Women with uterine cancer have many treatment options:
- Most uterine cancer is treated with robotic surgery
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- A combination of therapies
Learn more about diagnosis and treatment of uterine cancer.