Endometrial Cancer Screening & Diagnosis

Cancer screening exams can help find endometrial cancer at its earliest stage when the chances for successful treatment are greatest. These tests are usually done when the patient is healthy and has no specific symptoms.

Although there are currently no screening tests recommended to detect endometrial cancer that shows no signs or symptoms, expert cancer researchers at the OSUCCC – James are working to develop tests that can detect and diagnose the disease as early as possible, leading to improved outcomes, faster responses and fewer side effects. Women at high risk for endometrial cancer because of heredity should consider genetic analysis for early detection.

If you’ve been diagnosed with endometrial cancer, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with an endometrial cancer specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

Screening for Endometrial Cancer

One of the best ways to help detect endometrial cancer early is to understand the symptoms and risk factors of the disease and to see a doctor immediately if you have any concerns. Women in whom endometrial cancer is found at an early stage are more likely to experience a full recovery.

Although there is currently no way to prevent endometrial cancer completely, there are ways women can lower their risk for developing the disease:

  • For women taking hormones such as estrogen to control menopause symptoms, consider taking a combination of estrogen and progestin. Taking estrogen alone may increase your risk of endometrial cancer.
  • Get treatment for precancerous conditions of the endometrial lining, such as endometrial hyperplasia. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is an early warning sign of precancerous and cancerous conditions of the uterus. If you have this symptom, talk with your doctor right away.
  • Women with an inherited condition such as hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer, also known as Lynch syndrome, are at very high risk for the disease. Women with this condition and who have finished childbearing may consider having a hysterectomy to eliminate the risk of endometrial cancer.
  • Women who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for the disease, so maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and healthful eating habits can lower risks.

Endometrial Cancer Risk Factors

An endometrial cancer risk factor is anything that increases your chances of developing the disease. The following factors may increase the risk of developing endometrial cancer:

  • Taking tamoxifen for breast cancer treatment or prevention
  • Taking estrogen without also taking progesterone to control menopause symptoms
  • Being overweight
  • Eating a high-fat diet
  • Never giving birth
  • Beginning menstruation at an early age
  • Reaching menopause at an older age
  • Having the gene for hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (also known as Lynch syndrome)

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Not everyone with risk factors will get endometrial cancer. But having certain risk factors may increase your risk of developing the disease. If you are at high risk for endometrial cancer, talk to your doctor about tests to find out if you have early signs of the disease.

If you’ve been diagnosed with endometrial cancer, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with an endometrial cancer specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

Diagnosing Endometrial Cancer

An accurate, complete diagnosis is essential for effectively treating endometrial cancer. Because there is no routine cancer, the OSUCCC – James’s world-renowned endometrial cancer specialists and subspecialists reach across multiple disciplines and modes of treatment to offer patients the latest technologies and the most advanced procedures to understand endometrial cancer at the molecular and genetic levels – the levels that drive each patient’s specific cancer.

The OSUCCC – James is home to world-renowned diagnostic experts in gynecologic cancers. In fact, our team includes experts who specialize in gynecologic cancers – and only gynecologic cancers, 24/7 – studying, discovering and treating each kind, and developing and delivering leading-edge therapies.

These subspecialists and super subspecialists use the most accurate, advanced diagnostic testing and technology to analyze your cancer, enabling an entire team across multiple medical disciplines to determine the most effective, targeted treatment specifically for you.

If endometrial cancer is suspected, your OSUCCC – James specialist will examine you and ask you about your medical history, including information about symptoms and any risk factors you may have.

The experts may also conduct the following tests to form a diagnosis:

Endometrial biopsy

A surgical oncologist removes a small sample of cells from the uterus lining using a thin, flexible tube. A specially trained OSUCCC – James pathologist then examines the cells under a microscope for any signs cancer.

Dilatation and Curettage

This procedure is similar to an endometrial biopsy in which a sample of the inner lining of the uterus is taken for analysis. Instead of using the thin, flexible tube, however, the experts dilate the cervix, then collect cells using a spoon-shaped surgical instrument called a curette. A specially trained OSUCCC – James pathologist then examines the cells under a microscope for any signs of cancer.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests produce pictures of the inside of the body. There are several imaging tests that can be done to diagnose endometrial cancer, including:

  • Transvaginal Ultrasound Exam

A procedure in which a probe, called an ultrasound transducer, is inserted into the vagina and used to create pictures of the inside of the uterus and surrounding tissues

  • CT Scan (Computed Tomography Scan)

A CT scan is an X-ray test that produces detailed, cross- sectional images of your body.

  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

An MRI uses a high powered magnet and radio waves to help the OSUCCC – James subspecialists see detailed images inside the body. A substance called gadolinium is injected into a vein before the test. The gadolinium will collect around areas with cancer cells, and then a computer translates the radio waves into a detailed picture to help determine if a tumor is present.

  • PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scan

A PET scan uses a small amount of a radioactive tracer mixed with glucose to identify cancer cells. The PET scanner rotates around the patient’s body, and a special imaging camera displays images of areas where the tracer concentrates are highlighted. These areas are more active and usually indicate cancerous cells.

Tumor Sequencing & Genomic Analysis

Cytogenetic Analysis

This test analyzes the cells and identifies abnormal chromosomes (where genes are) that contribute to endometrial cancer. Identifying these abnormalities can help the OSUCCC – James experts decide the very best kind of personalized treatment for the patient.

Genetic Analysis

In this test, genetic material is obtained from the tumor tissue and examined for changes in genes that may help predict how a tumor may behave.

Staging Endometrial Cancer

If you are diagnosed with endometrial cancer, staging the tumor is just one of many ways  your OSUCCC – James endometrial cancer experts can determine the amount and location of your cancer, and it can help them choose the most effective, personalized treatment options for your particular disease. The staging classification remains the same throughout treatment.

Endometrial Cancer is classified as one of four stages:

Stage I

Cancer is found in the uterus only. Stage I is divided into stages IA and IB, based on how far the cancer has spread within the uterus. 

Stage IA

Cancer is in the endometrium only or less than halfway through the myometrium (muscle layer of the uterus).

Stage IB

Cancer has spread halfway or more into the myometrium layer of fatty tissue around the endometrium. Cancer may be found in 1 or more nearby lymph nodes.

Stage II

Cancer has spread into connective tissue of the cervix, but has not spread outside the uterus.

Stage III

Cancer has spread beyond the uterus and cervix, but has not spread beyond the pelvis. Stage III is divided into stages IIIA, IIIB and IIIC, based on how far the cancer has spread within the pelvis.

Stage IIIA

Cancer has spread to the outer layer of the uterus and/or to the fallopian tubes, ovaries and ligaments of the uterus.

Stage IIIB

Cancer has spread to the vagina or to the parametrium (connective tissue and fat around the uterus).

Stage IIIC

Cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis and/or around the aorta (largest artery in the body, which carries blood away from the heart).

Stage IV

Cancer has spread beyond the pelvis. Stage IV is divided into stages IVA and IVB, based on how far the cancer has spread.

Stage IVA

Cancer has spread to the bladder and/or bowel wall.

Stage IVB

Cancer has spread to other parts of the body beyond the pelvis, including the abdomen and/or lymph nodes in the groin. 

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

If you’ve been diagnosed with endometrial cancer, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with an endometrial cancer specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210

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