Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later. When cancer starts in the uterus, it is called uterine cancer. The uterus is the pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvis (the area below your stomach and in between your hip bones). The uterus, also called the womb, is where the baby grows when a woman is pregnant.
The most common type of uterine cancer is also called endometrial cancer because it forms in the lining of your uterus, called the endometrium.
The symptoms of uterine cancer include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Trouble urinating
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
Uterine cancer usually happens after menopause. It is more common in women who have obesity. You also have a higher risk if you took estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy (menopausal hormone therapy) for many years.
Who gets uterine cancer?
All women are at risk for uterine cancer, and the risk increases with age. Most uterine cancers are found in women who are going through, or who have gone through menopause—the time of life when your menstrual periods stop. Each year, approximately 50,600 women in the United States get uterine cancer. It is the fourth most common cancer in women in the United States and it is the most commonly diagnosed gynecologic cancer.
Tests to find uterine cancer include a pelvic exam, imaging tests, and a biopsy. The most common treatment is a hysterectomy, which is surgery to remove the uterus. Sometimes the surgery also removes the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Other treatments include hormone therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Some women get more than one type of treatment.