Uterine Cancer (Endometrial Cancer): Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

The term uterine cancer typically refers to cancers that begin in the lining of the uterus (endometrium). These are known as endometrial cancers or endometrial carcinomas. Cancers can also form in the muscular wall of the uterus (sarcomas of the uterus), but these are rare. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is one of the most common symptoms of uterine cancer. This includes vaginal bleeding after menopause, which is never normal and should always be investigated to find the cause. Vaginal discharge and pelvic pain are other possible symptoms and signs. It is also possible to have early stage uterine cancer that does not cause any noticeable signs or symptoms.

Causes of uterine cancer (endometrial cancer)

The exact cause of uterine cancer is not well understood. It is known that certain conditions or risk factors can increase the risk of getting endometrial cancer. These include obesity, metabolic syndrome, estrogen hormone therapy (without taking progesterone therapy at the same time), polycystic ovary syndrome, never giving birth, early menstruation, late menopause, a family history of uterine cancer, or having a condition called endometrial hyperplasia, in which the lining tissue of the uterus is abnormally thick.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/29/2018

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