Uterine cancer occurs when cells begin growing abnormally in a woman’s womb, or uterus. Endometrial cancer, a type of uterine cancer, starts in the lining of the uterus, or endometrium.
Types of uterine cancer
- Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer.
- Uterine sarcomas, another type of uterine cancer, are very rare and typically affect women between the ages of 60 and 70.
Uterine cancer risk factors
Has someone in your family (a parent, sibling or child) been diagnosed with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, a specific type of colon cancer? If yes, you are at greater risk of developing uterine or ovarian cancer. Talk to your doctor about your risks and genetic testing.
Several other issues put you at higher risk of developing uterine cancer, including these:
- High level of body fat or obesity
- Age (older than 50)
- Estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy to manage menopause (as opposed to taking progesterone as well)
- Taking tamoxifen, a drug used for breast cancer
- Problems getting pregnant
Uterine cancer symptoms
Uterine cancer symptoms can be caused by many things, not just cancer. But talk to your doctor if you experience the following:
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Heavier than usual vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- If your OB-GYN suspects uterine cancer, he or she may perform an utrasound and an endometrial biopsy. These tests are typically done in your doctor’s office.
Care for uterine cancer at Rush
Gynecologic oncologists at Rush specialize in treating cancers that begin in woman’s reproductive system (e.g., ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, vaginal cancer). Many women with cancer come to Rush seeking second opinions.
Because they are researchers as well as doctors, gynecologic oncologists at Rush are actively involved in finding better ways to find and treat uterine cancer. They offer innovative treatments through clinical trials as well as standard treatments.
Your treatment will be based several items:
- Stage of your disease (how far it has spread)
- Grade of your tumors (how fast it is growing)
- Your overall health
- Your preferences and goals
There are several treatment options, alone or in combination:
Surgery (e.g., hysterectomy), which may be performed using minimally invasive robotic surgery techniques to remove the following:
- Uterus, cervix and nearby tissues
- Lymph nodes
- Radiation therapy, which may occur before or after surgery
- Hormone therapy, which can be used in women who have tumors that need hormones to grow. Lab tests will indicate if you have this kind of tumor.
During treatment, you can also explore services offered through the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program at Rush. The program offers complementary therapies that can enhance cancer treatments by reducing the mental and physical stresses. The program offers acupuncture, biofeedback, guided imagery, counseling, massage therapy, yoga and more.
Why choose Rush for uterine and endometrial cancer care
- The gynecologic cancer program at Rush was among the first in the region to fight cervical cancer with a team approach. Patients see multiple cancer specialists and receive a personalized treatment plan.
- As a principal member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecology Oncology Group, Rush is at the leading edge of gynecologic cancer care and research.
- The Rush University Cancer Center has been awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer. Rush has received this award, which is given every three years, each time it has been evaluated by the Commission on Cancer.
- Gynecologic oncologists at Rush are specially trained to use robotic surgery (da Vinci) to treat uterine cancer.
- Uterine cancer has a genetic connection to ovarian cancer and a certain types of colon cancer. Genetic specialists at the Sandra Rosenberg Registry for Hereditary and Familial Colon Cancer at Rush and the Rush Inherited Susceptibility to Cancer Program can help assess your risk as well as that of your family members.