Endometrial cancer is cancer that starts in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus (womb).
Endometrial adenocarcinoma; Uterine adenocarcinoma; Uterine cancer; Adenocarcinoma - endometrium; Adenocarcinoma - uterus; Cancer - uterine; Cancer - endometrial; Uterine corpus cancer
Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer. The exact cause of endometrial cancer is unknown. An increased level of estrogen may play a role. Estrogen helps stimulate the buildup of the lining of the uterus. This can lead to 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 of endometrial cancer:
Estrogen replacement therapy without the use of progesterone
Problems from surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have any of the following:
Bleeding or spotting after intercourse or douching
Bleeding lasting longer than 7 days
Periods that occur every 21 days or sooner
Bleeding or spotting after 1 year or more of no bleeding after menopause
New discharge after menopause has begun
Pelvic pain or cramping that does not go away
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 or women who have taken tamoxifen for more than 2 years. Frequent pelvic exams, Pap smears and endometrial biopsy may be considered in some cases.
The risk of endometrial cancer is reduced by:
Maintaining a normal weight
Using birth control pills for over a year
Boggess JF, Kilgore JE. Uterine cancer. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, et al., eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2013:chap 88.
Leslie KK, Thiel KW, Goodheart MJ, et al. Endometrial cancer. Obstet Gynecol Clin N Am. 2012; 39:255–268.
National Cancer Institute: PDQ Endometrial Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified: 06/14/2013. Accessed March 5, 2014.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines): Uterine Neoplasms. Version 1.2014. Accessed March 5, 2014.
Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.