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Uterine cancer | Cancer Council Skip to main content

Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer types

The most common types of uterine cancer are:

  1. Endometrial cancer which affects the lining of the uterus (endometrium). About three-quarters of uterine cancers- called adenocarcinomas.
  2. Uterine sarcomas affect the smooth muscle tissue of uterus (myometrium) or the connective tissue (stroma) and are more likely to spread rapidly

How common is uterine cancer?

Over 2,000 women are diagnosed with uterine cancer each year. One in 47 women will be diagnosed with uterine cancer by the age of 85.

Uterine cancer causes

In most cases, the exact cause of cancer of the uterus is unknown. Some factors may increase a woman's risk:

  • Age – more common in women aged over 60
  • Being postmenopausal – most common in women who have been through menopause
  • Endometrial hyperplasia, a condition that occurs when the endometrium grows too thick
  • Never having children or infertility
  • Early menarche (first menstrual period)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes
  • Obesity
  • A family history of ovarian, endometrial, breast or bowel cancer
  • Previous pelvic radiation for cancer
  • Ovarian tumours or polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Taking oestrogen hormone replacement without progesterone
  • Taking the drug tamoxifen for the treatment of breast cancer. If you are taking tamoxifen, you should discuss this risk with your doctor

Uterine cancer symptoms and diagnosis

Abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding, particularly after menopause (can appear watery or bloody, and may have an offensive smell).

If you have specific question about cancer and your body you should seek advice from your doctor.

The usual tests to diagnose uterine cancer are transvaginal ultrasound, hysteroscopy and biopsy.

Uterine cancer treatment

The main treatment for cancer of the uterus is surgery, because uterine cancer is often diagnosed before it has spread. Many women do not need treatment other than surgery. If the cancer has spread beyond the uterus, radiotherapy, hormone treatment or chemotherapy may be used in addition to surgery.


Uterine cancer prognosis

In Australia, the overall five year survival rate for women diagnosed with uterine cancer is 82%.

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