Endometrial Cancer Screening Guidelines

Endometrial cancer is the most common type of cancer in the uterus. Also called uterine cancer, endometrial cancer starts in the cells that form the inner lining – the endometrium – of the uterus. 

It most often occurs in women who have already gone through menopause. Endometrial cancer usually takes years to develop, but is highly curable when found early.

Currently, there is no standard or routine screening test for endometrial cancer. That’s why it’s important to know the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer at the start of menopause. Talk to your primary care provider or gynecologist if you experience any unusual symptoms including:

  • Unexpected vaginal bleeding
  • Spotting
  • Watery or blood-tinged vaginal discharge 
  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain, pressure or a lump in the pelvic area or lower abdomen
  • Losing weight without trying

Your health history may indicate you need to consider an annual endometrial biopsy. Talk to your provider about your history.

Uterine Cancer Risk Factors

Most of the uterine cancer risk factors linked to endometrial cancer come from too much exposure to the hormone estrogen. The following factors increase the risk of endometrial cancer:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Diet high in animal fats
  • Not being physically active
  • Family history of endometrial cancer
  • Family history of colon cancer (hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer or Lynch syndrome)
  • Personal history of breast cancer
  • Personal history of ovarian cancer
  • Past radiation therapy to the pelvis
  • Taking things that affect hormone levels like estrogen after menopause or Tamoxifen to prevent or treat breast cancer
  • Personal history of atypical endometrial hyperplasia
  • Older age

Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise may help to lower the risk areas you can control.

Endometrial Cancer Screening Tests

If your health care provider thinks you are at higher than average risk, they can check for endometrial cancer in three ways:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound
  • Pelvic ultrasound
  • Endometrial sampling

What to Expect

What to expect during a transvaginal ultrasound

A wand-like probe is inserted into your vagina. The probe sends out sound waves that echo off the walls of your uterus. The sound waves are translated into an image on a screen. The inside of your uterus and changes in the thickness of the lining can be seen. An ultrasound can be used to see if a biopsy is needed.

What to expect during a pelvic ultrasound

A wand is moved over the skin of your lower belly to get images of your uterus. Your bladder needs to be full for this test.

What to expect during an endometrial sampling 

This involves taking a sample of the cells from the lining of the uterus. An endometrial biopsy uses a thin, flexible tube that’s put through your vagina and cervix and into your uterus. Cells are then removed through this tube. A sampling may also be taken using a hysteroscopy. This lets your provider see inside your uterus. It’s done with a small telescope-like tool. The tool is inserted through your cervix. Polyps or other abnormal tissues can be seen and can also be removed. 

Get Started

Talk to your primary care provider or gynecologist about your medical history and if you are experiencing any unusual vaginal bleeding, spotting or other symptoms.

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Endometrial Cancer: Risk Factors
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