True or False? Six Endometrial Cancer Questions Answered
In the U.S., endometrial cancer—cancer in the lining of the uterus--is the most common gynecologic cancer, based on American Cancer Society data.1
While there is no standard screening test for uterine cancer, we know enough to list some important facts to help women determine if a symptom is concerning enough to get checked out.2
Try your hand at these true-or-false statements to learn more.
Unusual vaginal bleeding is the only symptom of endometrial cancer.
FALSE: Although 90% of women who have this disease experience vaginal bleeding,3 there are multiple symptoms, which can include:4
- abnormal discharge
- pelvic pain
- prevalent mass or tumor
- weight loss
There are other factors that can cause these symptoms, but it is important to report any of these issues to your doctor.
Surgery is the most common treatment for women with endometrial cancer.
TRUE: The main treatment for endometrial cancer is surgery to take out the uterus, including the cervix, which is called a hysterectomy. If one or both ovaries and the fallopian tubes are also removed, this is called a salpingo-oophorectomy.5
There is one type of hysterectomy.
FALSE: There are multiple ways that a hysterectomy can be performed.5
- Total Hysterectomy: The uterus, including the cervix, is removed.
- Vaginal Hysterectomy: The uterus and cervix are removed through the vagina.
- Abdominal Hysterectomy: The uterus and cervix are removed through a large incision (cut) in the abdomen.
- Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: The uterus and cervix are removed through a small incision (cut) in the abdomen using a laparoscope.
- Radical Hysterectomy: The entire uterus, the tissues next to the uterus, and the upper part of the vagina (next to the cervix) are all removed. Radical hysterectomy can be performed through the abdomen, but it can also be done through the vagina.
Once you have surgery to remove endometrial cancer, it is gone forever.
FALSE: An important part of a treatment plan is follow-up visits, especially because endometrial cancer is most likely to come back within the first few years after treatment. For most women who had endometrial cancer, recommendations include a physical exam every three to six months for the first two to three years, then every six to twelve months. Imaging tests are recommended if there is anything unusual in the physical exam or if there are any concerning health changes.6
Some women are at higher risk for endometrial cancer than others.
TRUE: Several risk factors are known for endometrial cancer. These include:7
- Age (risk increases after menopause)
- Endometrial hyperplasia, or abnormal thickening of the lining of the uterus
- Estrogen therapy
- Early menstruation
- Late menopause
- Never being pregnant
- Obesity, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes
- Genetic factors
While some risk factors cannot be avoided, protective actions can decrease the risk of endometrial cancer, such as pregnancy and breast-feeding, hormonal contraceptives, weight loss and physical activity. Oddly enough, cigarette smoking has been linked to a decreased risk of endometrial cancer, but the proven harms of smoking far outweigh the evidence of benefits.
Black women do not have a higher risk of endometrial cancer than white women.
FALSE: Not only is endometrial cancer more common in Black women, but they are also more likely to die from it.1 For more information on ways to “end the silence,” and empower people across generations and cultures, check out the Spot Her® campaign that features patient stories and resources.*
*Spot Her is sponsored by FORCE, SHARE, BlackHealthMatters.com, and Eisai.
1. Cancer.org. Key Statistics for Endometrial Cancer. Accessed April 15, 2022. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/endometrial-cancer/about/key-statistics.html.
2. Cancer.gov. Endometrial Cancer Screening (PDQ®)-Patient Version. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.cancer.gov/types/uterine/patient/endometrial-screening-pdq#_13.
3. Clarke MA, Long BJ, Del Mar Morillo A, Arbyn M, Bakkum-Gamez JN, Wentzensen N. Association of endometrial cancer risk with postmenopausal bleeding in women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(9):1210-1222.
4. Setiawan VW, Yang HP, Pike MC, et al. Type I and II endometrial cancers: have they different risk factors? J Clin Oncol. 2013 Jul 10;31(20):2607-18.
5. Cancer.gov. Endometrial Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.cancer.gov/types/uterine/patient/endometrial-treatment-pdq#_131.
6. Cancer.org. Living as an Endometrial Cancer Survivor. Accessed April 15, 2022. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/endometrial-cancer/after-treatment/follow-up.html.
7. Cancer.gov. Endometrial Cancer Prevention (PDQ®)–Patient Version. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.cancer.gov/types/uterine/patient/endometrial-prevention-pdq.