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Endometrial Cancer (Uterine Cancer)

Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

With a team of gynecologic oncology specialists on their side, women with endometrial cancer receive the most advanced care in a compassionate environment at UT Southwestern Medical Center. 

As the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in North Texas, we deliver the best cancer care available today and push to discover new treatments. NCI designation means we offer patients the ability to participate in the broadest possible range of clinical trials, with access to potential therapies not available at other facilities.

Extensive Experience with Complex Cases

Endometrial cancer – sometimes called uterine cancer – begins in the layer of cells that form the lining (endometrium) of the uterus. It is the most common cancer of the female reproductive tract. About one-third of ovarian cancer cases are believed to begin as endometrial cancer. 

UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center has extensive experience with this difficult cancer. Our gynecologic oncologists treat some of the most complex cases of endometrial cancer, offering minimally invasive surgery, fertility-sparing treatments, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. 

Types, Causes, and Symptoms

Nearly all endometrial cancers are endometrial adenocarcinomas, which originate from glandular tissue. Subtypes of endometrial adenocarcinomas include adenosquamous carcinomas, papillary serous adenocarcinomas, and clear cell carcinomas. 

Uterine sarcoma, the other main type of endometrial cancer, originates in the connective tissue or muscle of the uterus. 

Gestational trophoblastic disease is a rare condition in which tumors grow inside a woman’s uterus when she is pregnant. 

While the causes of most cases of endometrial cancer are unknown, we know that a hormone imbalance (between estrogen and progesterone) is a risk factor. 

Most women with endometrial cancer have early symptoms. The most common early symptom is abnormal vaginal bleeding, which includes:

  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding for premenopausal women
  • An abnormal, watery, or blood-tinged discharge from the vagina 

Pelvic or abdominal pain is a symptom of advanced endometrial cancer. 

Diagnosis

To diagnose endometrial cancer, our doctors might perform a physical exam, order blood work, take a tissue sample, or call for additional testing if symptoms are present or if the disease is suspected for other reasons. 

At UT Southwestern, we use a wide range of oncology imaging techniques to diagnose, treat, and monitor patients with endometrial cancer. These include:

Treatments

Treatment for endometrial cancer depends on its characteristics and stage and the patient’s overall health, preferences, and goals. Options include: 

Surgery

When endometrial cancer is detected early, removing the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries often eliminates all of it. Our surgeons might also remove the pelvic lymph nodes. Using the latest advancements in surgical technologies and tools, UT Southwestern offers a growing number of minimally invasive and laparoscopic techniques for surgically treating endometrial cancer in appropriate patients. 

Learn more about surgery for gynecologic cancer. 

Radiation therapy

This variety of treatments includes external-beam radiation and internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy.

Learn more about radiation therapy for gynecologic cancer. 

Chemotherapy

Our treatments include the most advanced combinations of cancer-killing drugs.

Research at UT Southwestern has found that a mutation in a single gene can cause endometrial cancer that is responsive to a specific drug therapy. Eventually, it might be possible to screen women for that particular mutation to see if their endometrial cancer will respond to chemotherapy. More testing is underway. 

Learn more about medical treatments for gynecologic cancer. 

Hormone therapy

This treatment, which often but not always involves progesterone, can slow the growth of endometrial cancer cells that have receptors to the hormone. Hormone therapy might also be used in combination with other types of treatment or, for women who cannot have surgery or radiation therapy, instead of those treatments. 

Women with endometrial cancer often have concerns about how treatment might affect their sexual function and fertility. Our experts will discuss all options with each patient before treatment begins, and patients should not be afraid to ask questions.

Find a Clinical Trial

We have a wide range of clinical trials open to patients with all stages of cancer. Search for opportunities to participate in a cancer study.

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