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Clinical Specialties - Cancer

Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer

Gynaecological Oncology MDTEndometrial cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the uterus. The uterus is the hollow, pear-shaped pelvic organ in women where foetal development occurs.

The uterine/endometrial cancer experts at Sydney Adventist Hospital use several methods to confirm your diagnosis and determine the stage of your disease. They have experience with early-stage as well as complex cancer; have access to advanced diagnostic tools and a wide range of treatments, including clinical trials. At the same time, our supportive clinicians help you manage side effects to support your quality of life. Explore this section to learn more about endometrial cancer, its side effects and your treatment options.

About uterine (endometrial) cancer

Uterine cancer begins in the layer of cells that form the lining (endometrium) of the uterus and is therefore generally referred to as endometrial cancer. Other types of cancer can form in the uterus, including uterine sarcoma, but according to the Cancer Council of Australia, they generally only account for about 4% of all uterine cancers.

Each year, about 2500 Australian women are diagnosed with uterine cancer. The majority of these women are over 50. It is the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in Australian women and the most commonly diagnosed gynaecological cancer in Australia. One in 60 women is likely to be diagnosed with uterine cancer by the age of 75.

Endometrial cancer is often detected at an early stage because it frequently produces abnormal vaginal bleeding, which prompts women to see their doctors. If endometrial cancer is discovered early, removing the uterus surgically often cures endometrial cancer.

What are the symptoms of uterine cancer?

Signs and symptoms of uterine / endometrial cancer may include:

  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Bleeding between periods
  • An abnormal, watery or blood-tinged discharge from your vagina
  • Heartburn or indigestion symptoms similar to an ulcer may be signs of stomach cancer
  • Pelvic pain

Make an appointment with your general practitioner (GP) if you experience any signs or symptoms that worry you, such as vaginal bleeding or discharge not related to your periods, pelvic pain, or pain during intercourse.

How is uterine cancer diagnosed?

Tests and procedures used to diagnose endometrial cancer include:

  • Pelvic examination to check for obvious abnormalities
  • Transvaginal ultrasound  used to look at the thickness and texture of the endometrium and help rule out other conditions
  • Hysteroscopy involves using a small camera to examine the inside of your uterus and the endometrium.
  • Endometrial biopsy involves removing tissue from your uterine lining for laboratory analysis. 
  • Dilation and curettage (D & C) is used when not enough tissue can be obtained during a biopsy in the clinic or if the biopsy results are unclear. It involves tissue being scraped from the lining of your uterus and examined under a microscope for cancer cells.

If endometrial cancer is found, you'll likely be referred to a doctor who specialises in treating cancers involving the female reproductive system (gynaecological oncologist).

What are my treatment options?

If you have uterine or endometrial cancer, your multidisciplinary team will meet to discuss a tailored treatment plan for you based on: 

  • The results of your tests
  • The type of cancer
  • Where the cancer is
  • Whether the cancer has spread
  • Your age and general health

Uterine cancer is often diagnosed early, before it has spread, and can be treated surgically. For many women, surgery will be the only treatment they need.

If the cancer has spread beyond the uterus, radiation therapy, hormone treatment or chemotherapy may also be recommended.

Resources and useful uterine cancer links
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Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical Specialties and Services