Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
The most common symptom of endometrial cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding after menopause. "Abnormal" bleeding means unexpected bleeding. If you are taking hormone therapy after menopause, you can expect some bleeding. But if you have irregular bleeding, call your doctor.
Abnormal bleeding in women older than 35 who have not started menopause may also be a symptom of endometrial cancer, though this is less common. In rare cases, an unexplained abnormal vaginal discharge may be an early symptom.
Symptoms of more advanced endometrial cancer include:
Normally, the lining of the uterus (endometrium) builds up and then sheds every month. You know this shedding as menstrual bleeding. In most cases of endometrial cancer, the endometrium has built up, or thickened, and has stayed that way. This is called endometrial hyperplasia. From this "precancer" stage, the cells can grow quickly and out of control. These fast-growing cells are cancer cells.
As the cancerous cells multiply, they form a mass of tissue. Some of this tissue mass passes out of the uterus through the cervix and vagina as part of abnormal bleeding. Abnormal bleeding occurs in 90% of postmenopausal women who have endometrial cancer.1
If endometrial cancer is not treated, it may spread from the uterus into deeper layers of the connective tissue around the uterus. As it progresses, it may spread to the pelvic lymph nodes and other pelvic organs. Advanced-stage cancer may spread to lymph nodes and on to the lungs, liver, bones, brain, and vagina.2
The stage and grade of your cancer is one of the most important factors in selecting the treatment option that is right for you. The long-term outcome (prognosis) depends on the stage of your cancer. The stage of you cancer will be determined by what your doctor finds at the time of surgery. The grade of your cancer is determined by how the cancer cells look under the microscope.
For more information, see the following topics:
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