This section will take you through the basics of what you need to know about endometrial cancer. It will introduce you to the people who may be part of your treatment team. Also, it will identify the different types of treatments for endometrial cancer. Hopefully, this information will help prepare you to talk with your treatment team and to feel more confident about your treatment plan.
Download a printable version of the information in this section with our brochure, Endometrial Cancer: Your Guide.
Endometrial Cancer Overview
Cancer occurs when cells in an area of the body grow abnormally. Endometrial cancer is cancer of the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium). The uterus (or womb) is where a baby grows during pregnancy. The fallopian tubes and ovaries are on both sides of the uterus. The cervix is the mouth of the uterus (or womb) that connects it to the vagina. These reproductive organs are located in the pelvis, close to the bladder and rectum.
The endometrium is the inside lining of the uterus that grows each month during the childbearing years. It does this so that it will be ready to support an embryo if a woman becomes pregnant. If pregnancy does not occur, the endometrium is shed during the menstrual period.
The most common warning sign for uterine cancer, including endometrial cancer, is abnormal vaginal bleeding. Recognition of this symptom often affords an opportunity for early diagnosis and treatment. In older women, any bleeding, spotting, or brownish discharge after menopause may be a symptom of endometrial cancer. Younger women are also at risk and should note irregular or heavy vaginal bleeding as this can be a symptom of endometrial cancer.
Medical Evaluation and Diagnosis
When a woman experiences concerning symptoms, a pelvic exam, including a rectovaginal exam, and a general physical should be performed. If the exam is abnormal or she presented for abnormal vaginal bleeding, the woman should undergo an endometrial biopsy, an ultrasound and/or a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure.
If endometrial cancer is suspected or diagnosed, it is important to seek care first from a gynecologic oncologist—medical doctors with specialized training in treating gynecologic cancers who can manage your care from diagnosis to completion of treatment. Use our Seek a Specialist tool to find a gynecologic oncologist in your area.