Uterine cancer develops in the cells that line the uterus. Normally, the uterine lining (endometrium) builds up and sloughs off with each menstrual cycle. Sometimes, however, for reasons that are not yet fully understood, the endometrium does not shed as it should and instead becomes increasingly thicker over time. This precancerous condition is known as endometrial hyperplasia. If the abnormal cells continue to grow rapidly out of control, they may accumulate and form tumors.
What are some signs and symptoms of uterine cancer?
In its early stages, endometrial cancer may not have any noticeable effect on the body. If symptoms develop, the most common sign is vaginal bleeding that occurs between menstrual periods or after menopause. The amount of bleeding can vary, ranging from bloody spotting or a watery discharge streaked with blood to a very heavy and prolonged flow. Other signs of uterine cancer include:
- Pain during urination
- Frequent urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Persistent cramping or pain in the pelvic area
- Unexplained weight loss
What to do if you experience uterine cancer symptoms
It’s important to understand that none of these signs is a conclusive indicator of cancer. In fact, more often than not, these symptoms are caused by a less serious health condition, such as noncancerous changes in the uterus or a precancerous overgrowth of the endometrium. That said, if you are experiencing possible signs of endometrial cancer, you should see a physician promptly for an accurate diagnosis and, if necessary, appropriate treatment. This will help you achieve the best possible outcome and quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Hye Sook Chon, MD, gynecologic oncologist
If you’d like to discuss your uterine cancer symptoms with a gynecologic oncologist in the gynecological clinic at Moffitt Cancer Center, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. No referrals are necessary.