Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that occurs when malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the endometrium, which lines the uterus. This cancer is most common for postmenopausal women age 60 and older, and symptoms include vaginal bleeding after menopause, bleeding between periods and pelvic pain. Currently, there are no screening tests for endometrial uterine cancer for women who are at average risk and have no symptoms. However, women who have or have had hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) are at increased risk and can request a yearly endometrial biopsy starting at age 35.
If a woman has several family members with a history of colon cancer or endometrial cancer, she can find out if she has a mutation in one of the genes for HNPCC through genetic testing. This places her at higher risk for endometrial uterine cancer and qualifies her for a yearly endometrial biopsy screening.
What is an endometrial biopsy?
During an endometrial biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from the endometrium and then sent to a lab to be studied under a microscope. The tissue will be examined for endometrial cancer cells and any other abnormalities.
An endometrial biopsy is performed similarly to a Pap test, in which a speculum will be inserted into the vagina so that the cervix can be viewed. The cervix will be cleaned and then a thin suction tube will be inserted into the uterus to collect the tissue sample. The procedure typically doesn’t take longer than 15 minutes and results are ready within a week.
Moffitt Cancer Center’s approach to endometrial cancer
If you have had an abnormal endometrial biopsy or you are at higher risk for endometrial uterine cancer and want to consult with Moffitt Cancer Center about your screening options, call us today at 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. Our uterine cancer specialists include fellowship-trained surgeons, medical oncologists, fertility preservation specialists and supportive care providers who provide our patients with comprehensive, individualized care.