Uterine Cancer Diagnosis
Early and accurate diagnosis of uterine cancer can help increase the chance for successful treatment. MD Anderson uses the most advanced techniques and technology to diagnose uterine cancer and find out the exact extent of the disease. This helps your doctor choose the best type of treatment for you. Our staff includes pathologists, diagnostic radiologists and specially trained technicians who are highly skilled in diagnosing uterine cancer.
Uterine Cancer Diagnostic Tests
If you have symptoms that may signal uterine cancer, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions about your:
- Lifestyle, including smoking and drinking habits
- Family history
If your doctor thinks you might have uterine cancer, the first step will be a biopsy. Your doctor will decide the best way to do the biopsy. Methods include:
Endometrial biopsy: A thin, flexible tube is inserted through the cervix and into the uterus. Using suction, a small amount of tissue is removed through the tube.
D&C (dilation and curettage): If an endometrial biopsy does not provide enough tissue or if a uterine cancer diagnosis is not definite, a D&C may be done. The cervix is dilated (enlarged) with a series of increasingly larger metal rods. A tool called a curette then is used to take cells from the uterus lining.
Hysteroscopy: A thin, telescope-like device with a light (hysteroscope) is put into the uterus through the vagina. The doctor then looks at the uterus and the openings to the fallopian tubes. Small pieces of tissue can be removed. Hysteroscopy may be done with a D&C.
One or more of the following tests may be used to find out if you have uterine cancer and if it has spread. These tests also may be used to find out if treatment is working.
Surgery, which may include:
- Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: Removal of the uterus, ovaries and Fallopian tubes
- Lymph node dissection: Removal of lymph nodes in the pelvis and lower abdomen
Imaging tests, which may include:
- Ultrasound (link to definition)
- CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scans (link to definition)
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans (link to definition)
- PET (positron emission tomography) scans (link to definition)
- Chest X-ray
Blood tests, which may include:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- CA 125: Uterine cancers sometimes release this substance into the blood. This test, which is being studied at MD Anderson, measures levels of CA 125. High levels of CA 125 may mean the cancer has spread beyond the uterus or come back after treatment.
The Gynecological Cancer Genetics Clinic at MD Anderson offers genetic testing for some women with uterine cancer or who are at risk. Genetic counseling may be recommended if you:
- Were diagnosed with endometrium cancer before age 50
- Have had colon or rectal cancer
- Have any close relatives with colon, rectal or endometrium cancer
- Have a relative who has tested positive for a Lynch syndrome gene mutation (MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2 genes) Read more about hereditary cancer syndromes
If you have been diagnosed with uterine cancer, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-MDA-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.
Why Choose MD Anderson?
- Latest uterine cancer treatment options, including minimally invasive surgery
- Focus on quality of life, including special support groups
- Teams of experts customize uterine cancer treatment
- Genetic counseling for women at high risk of uterine cancer
- Nationally recognized research program offers clinical trials of new uterine cancer treatments
Uterine Cancer Knowledge Center
Uterine Cancer Staging
If you are diagnosed with uterine cancer, your doctor will determine the stage of the disease. Staging is a way of classifying cancer by how much disease is in the body and where it has spread when it is diagnosed. This helps the doctor plan the best way to treat the cancer.
Once the staging classification is determined, it stays the same even if treatment works or the cancer spreads.
Uterine Cancer Stages
(source: National Cancer Institute)
Stage IA: Cancer is in the endometrium (uterine lining) only, the inner half of the myometrium (muscle wall), or the glands in the cervix
Stage IB: Cancer has spread to outer half of the myometrium
Stage II: Cancer has spread to cervix connective tissue
Stage IIIA: Cancer has spread to:
- The outer layer of uterus
- Other pelvic organs including the fallopian tubes or ovaries
Stage IIIB: Cancer has spread to the vagina
Stage IIIC: Cancer has spread to lymph nodes near the uterus
Stage IVA: Cancer has spread the bladder and/or bowel wall
Stage IVB: Cancer has spread beyond the pelvis, including lymph nodes in the abdomen or groin
Getting a Second Opinion at MD Anderson
The pathologists at MD Anderson are highly specialized in diagnosing all types of uterine cancers. We welcome the opportunity to provide second opinions for uterine cancers.
If you would like to get a second opinion at MD Anderson, call 1-877-MDA-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.