Uterine cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in the United States and the most commonly diagnosed gynecologic cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Close to 50,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease, and nearly 8,200 killed by it in 2013. Uterine cancer begins in your uterus, the pear-shaped organ in your pelvis. The most common form of uterine cancer is called endometrial cancer, because it forms in the endometrium, or uterine lining.

Common Risk Factors
Although all women are at risk for uterine cancer, your chances increase with age, and most cases are found in women who are experiencing or have gone through menopause. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites these as risk factors for uterine cancer:

  • Age 50 or above
  • Obesity
  • Taking estrogen without taking progesterone for hormone replacement therapy
  • Having had trouble getting pregnant or having fewer than five periods in a year at any time before starting menopause
  • Taking Tamoxifen (a drug to treat certain types of breast cancer)
  • Family history of uterine, colon, or ovarian cancer

Unlike cervical cancer, which a Pap test can help find, there are no reliable screening exams to detect uterine cancer, and routine testing is not recommended for women who do not show symptoms. Though there are no known ways to prevent it, the CDC recognizes that certain factors could help lower your chances:          

  • Taking birth control pills
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Being physically active
  • Taking progesterone if taking estrogen for hormone replacement therapy

Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms below may be caused by uterine cancer or by other health problems. If you experience any of them, tell your doctor at once so you can be evaluated as soon as possible:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, spotting, or discharge (any vaginal bleeding after menopause is considered abnormal )
  • Pain or difficulty when urinating
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the pelvic area

It's important to pay attention to your body and know what's normal for you so that you can recognize any warning signs of uterine cancer. If you think you are at high risk, talk to your doctor about your concerns. If you have symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding apart from menstruation, make an appointment with your doctor.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Gynecologic Cancers:  Uterine Cancer." Web.  28 Aug. 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/uterine/

National Cancer Institute. "What You Need to Know About Cancer of the Uterus." Web. 25 Oct.  2010. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/uterus

American Cancer Society. "Estimated Number of New Cancer Cases and Deaths by Sex, US, 2013." Web. 30 March 2013. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-037124.pdf