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Endometrial Cancer

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 6, 2022.

What is endometrial cancer?

Endometrial cancer starts in the lining of the uterus (endometrium). The endometrium is the inner layer and is the layer shed during a normal period.

What increases my risk for endometrial cancer?

  • Increased exposure to estrogen from hormone replacement therapy, late menopause, or obesity
  • Early age when your periods started, or irregular periods
  • Infertility (not able to become pregnant) or not having children if you are able
  • Age 50 years or older
  • Breast cancer, or certain treatments used for breast cancer
  • Endometrial hyperplasia, a condition that causes the uterine lining to grow thicker than normal
  • A family history of breast, endometrial, or colorectal cancer
  • Diabetes, PCOS, or high blood pressure
  • Thyroid or gallbladder disease
  • Cigarette smoking

What are the signs and symptoms of endometrial cancer?

  • Bleeding after menopause or between periods
  • Pain in your abdomen or pelvis
  • A bloated or distended abdomen

How is endometrial cancer diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will do a pelvic exam to check for problems with your cervix, uterus, and ovaries. Your healthcare provider will check for signs of cancer that has spread outside your uterus. This will help plan treatment. You may also need any of the following:

  • Endometrial biopsy is a procedure to take a sample of tissue from the endometrium to be checked for cancer.
  • Hysteroscopy is a procedure to see inside your uterus to check for cancer. Healthcare providers use a scope (tube).
  • Transvaginal ultrasound is a test used to show pictures of your uterus and ovaries.
  • Dilation and curettage is a procedure to remove tissue from your uterus to be checked for cancer.

How is endometrial cancer treated?

Talk to your healthcare provider if you want to have children. Some treatments, such as hysterectomy, will permanently prevent you from becoming pregnant.

  • Hysterectomy is surgery to remove your uterus. Your fallopian tubes and ovaries may also be removed. Healthcare providers may also remove nearby lymph nodes.
  • Hormone therapy may be used to block estrogen or slow the growth of endometrial cancer.
  • Radiation therapy uses x-rays or gamma rays to treat cancer. Radiation kills cancer cells and may stop the cancer from spreading.
  • Chemotherapy medicine is used to treat cancer by killing cancer cells. Chemotherapy may also be used to shrink lymph nodes that have cancer in them.
  • Ablation is a procedure to destroy the endometrium. You may need ablation if you have heavy or abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What can I do to manage my endometrial cancer?

  • Do not smoke. Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage your cancer. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. If you have nausea or diarrhea from cancer treatment, extra liquids may help decrease your risk for dehydration.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Foods may taste different during cancer treatment. You may not feel like eating, and you may lose weight. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Eat small meals every 2 to 3 hours.
    Healthy Foods
  • Exercise as directed. Ask about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise may improve your energy levels and appetite.
    Walking for Exercise
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed. Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
  • You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
  • You cough up blood.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have vaginal bleeding when it is not time for your period.
  • You see blood in your urine.
  • Your bowel movements are bloody or black.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your abdomen or legs are swollen.
  • You have no appetite or have lost weight without trying.
  • You have back, pelvic, hip, or abdominal pain.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

Learn more about Endometrial Cancer

Treatment options

Care guides

Symptoms and treatments

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.