The best way to detect endometrial (uterine) cancer is to be vigilant in noticing potential symptoms. If you are experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding – the most common warning sign of endometrial cancer – you should see a gynecologist or gynecologic oncologist right away. While both types of physicians can diagnose uterine cancer and other conditions affecting the female reproductive system, a gynecologic oncologist can provide specialized treatment as well.
How is endometrial cancer diagnosed?
In general, a physician will review your symptoms, risk factors and medical history, then perform a thorough pelvic exam. If appropriate, your physician will also order an imaging test, such as a pelvic or transvaginal ultrasound. During this test, a small instrument called a transducer will be placed on your lower abdomen or inserted into your vagina. The transducer will produce a series of sound waves and capture the echoes that are produced when the sound waves bounce off your internal organs. A computer will then translate these echoes into high-quality images of your uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Based on his or her preliminary findings, your physician may also order one or more other diagnostic tests, such as an:
- Endometrial biopsy – A very thin flexible tube will be inserted into your uterus through your cervix. Then, using suction, a small sample of endometrial tissue will be removed through the tube.
- Hysteroscopy – A tiny telescope will be inserted into your uterus through your cervix. For enhanced visibility, your uterus will be filled with a saline solution, which will allow your physician to view and biopsy any abnormalities, such as polyps or endometrial cancer.
- Dilation and curettage (D&C) – After the opening of your cervix is enlarged, a special instrument will be inserted and used to scrape a small amount of tissue from the inside of your uterus.
The endometrial tissue samples obtained through these tests can be evaluated by a pathologist, who will use a microscope to determine whether cancerous cells are present and, if so, confirm an endometrial cancer diagnosis.
If you’d like further information about the detection and diagnosis of endometrial cancer, request an appointment at Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. You can meet with an oncologist in our gynecologic clinic with or without a referral.