In the United States, endometrial cancer is the most common malignancy of the female genital tract. In fact, it’s the fourth most common cancer in women—an average of 41,000 American women are diagnosed each year. Fortunately, endometrial cancer is often detected at an early stage, because it frequently causes vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or after menopause.
The majority of women with endometrial cancer are diagnosed at an early stage. However, some cases are not found until the cancer has spread beyond the uterus, and about 7,000 women in the United States die from endometrial cancer each year.
Signs & Symptoms
Endometrial cancer usually begins in the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus, and it typically develops over a number of years. The first symptom of endometrial cancer is often abnormal vaginal bleeding. Most cases develop in postmenopausal women who no longer have menstrual periods, however, a small percentage of cases have been diagnosed in women under the age of 40. The following are signs and symptoms of endometrial cancer:
- Prolonged periods or bleeding between periods
- More frequent vaginal bleeding or spotting during the years leading up to menopause (which is considered perimenopause)
- Any vaginal bleeding after the time of menopause
- Pelvic pain (this is most common late in the disease)
- Weight loss
It is rare for endometrial cancer to reach an advanced stage without presenting any signs or symptoms. Remember that endometrial cancer is much more likely to be cured when detected at its early stages, so it is important to pay attention to your body and report any symptoms to your doctor.
There are other conditions that can cause some of the same symptoms, but you should not ignore the signs of endometrial cancer. If you have any of these signs or symptoms, contact your physician.
If you would like to make an appointment with a Northwestern Memorial Hospital physician for the first time, call our Physician Referral Department at 1-877-926-4664 or request an appointment online.