Uterine Cancer: Diagnosis

The good news is that endometrial cancer is often diagnosed early when a cure is highly likely. As endometrial cancers arise from lining of the uterus, women often experience symptoms early in the course of the disease. The most common symptom of endometrial cancer is vaginal bleeding or discharge. Postmenopausal women who experience abnormal bleeding or vaginal discharge should contact their physician for evaluation.

Endometrial cancer is typically diagnosed by a uterine biopsy that can often be completed in the office setting with minimal discomfort.  This technique is completed by placing a small caliber plastic tube (Pipelle) into the uterine cavity and aspirating cells that can be checked for cancer. Sometimes, if an office biopsy cannot be completed the diagnosis can be made by undergoing a D&C (Dilitation and Curettage) with or without hysteroscopy. A D&C hysteroscopy is a minor surgical procedure that is completed in the operating room under anesthesia. At the time of surgery, the cervix is dilated, a small camera is used to visualize the uterine cavity, and the uterine lining is sampled with small metal surgical instruments called curettes.  

Other testing that may be important if a patient is diagnosed with an endometrial cancer include:

CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis:  CT scans take many different x-rays to produce detailed, cross-sectional images of your body. A CT scan is often done if the doctor suspects cancer has spread to the chest, abdomen, or behind the abdominal cavity.

MRI of the pelvis:  MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays to take pictures of the body.

Pelvic Ultrasound:  Ultrasounds use sound waves to form images of the body