Endometrial carcinoma

We are here to help if you or your loved one has womb cancer

Cancer Education

Uterine (womb) cancer is also known as endometrial cancer. It is the most common gynaecological cancer in Australia. 

The uterus is part of a woman’s reproductive system. The uterus is a small, empty space where fertilised eggs settle and grow into babies. It connects to the vagina by the cervix, which is the opening to the uterus. 

The uterus has two layers: 

  1. Endometrium: the lining of the uterus 
  2. Myometrium: the tissue that makes up the uterus muscle. 

The most common cancers of the uterus start in the lining of the uterus (the endometrium). Womb cancers of the endometrium include: 

  • Adenocarcinoma 

  • Adenosquamous carcinoma 

  • Papillary serous carcinoma 

  • Clear cell carcinoma 

  • Endometrial sarcoma. 

The most common womb cancer in Australia is adenocarcinoma. This cancer starts in the gland cells of the uterus lining. Over 2000 Australia women find out they have this cancer each year. Most undergo treatment that cures them. 

It is hard to know what causes uterine cancer. The chance of developing this cancer increase if you: 

  • are overweight or obese. 

  • are between the ages of 50 and 60. 

  • are post-menopausal. 

  • have never had children or are infertile. 

  • have had an ovarian disease. This could be endometrial hyperplasia where your endometrium grows too thick. 

  • take the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. 

  • have a history of cancer in the family. 

  • have had an ovarian tumour. 

  • have had earlier pelvic radiation for cancer. 

  • have high blood pressure or diabetes. 

Your first tests for diagnosis 

Many women with uterine cancer experience signs or symptoms. The most common symptom is vaginal bleeding that is not normal. See your doctor for a check-up if you experience vaginal bleeding or fluid discharge. 

Some signs and symptoms of uterine cancer include: 

  • abnormal, fluid discharge that is watery, pink, white or smelly 

  • heavy bleeding between periods especially for women aged between 30 and 40 

  • vaginal bleeding after menopause 

  • heavy periods or bleeding between your periods 

  • finding it hard to urinate (pee/wee) 

  • pain when urinating 

  • pain during sex. 

Placing you at the centre of our work, our specialists will find out the type of uterine cancer it is. 

Our experts will work with you to find out the correct uterine cancer. They will support you through a medical examination and other key tests such as: 

  • pathology (blood tests) 

  • pelvic exam 

  • imaging (scans and x-rays) 

  • scopes (using a small camera to look inside) 

  • biopsy. 

Endometrial carcinoma diagnosis 

We provide you with the best testing and treatment for uterine cancer. 

We will design and supply the best diagnosis and treatment plan. This will respond to your condition and individual needs. 

To diagnose uterine cancer, we may: 

  • Conduct a colposcopy. This is a simple day-procedure to see and examine the vagina, cervix and uterus. 

  • Use ultrasounds and take x-rays. These could be CT (Computed Tomography) or PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans. We may also use MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans. We will do this to show the exact size and place of the cancer. 

  • Perform a biopsy, where we remove a small sample of cells or piece of tissue from the affected area. 

The results from these tests will also help us understand how developed your cancer is. If there is uterine cancer, we will find out its stage. Staging is a way to describe or label how far the disease has spread. This will help guide your best treatment plan. 

Focusing on you (treatment) 

Our doctors will discuss and develop the best treatment plan for you. Treatments will depend on your diagnosis. 

Uterine cancer treatment will depend on: 

  • the type of disease it is 

  • whether it has spread and how far (its stage) 

  • your general health and wellbeing 

  • your needs. 

We will develop the most effective treatment plan for your condition and needs. Your treatment team may recommend any of the following treatments as part of your plan: 

  • Surgery to remove the uterus and affected areas. 

  • Chemotherapy, or anti-cancer drugs. This help shrink or destroy the cancer cells before or after surgery. 

  • Radiation therapy, which are strong and powerful beams of radiation/energy. These beams kill and/or slow cancer cells either before or after surgery or both: 

  • External beam radiation therapy, directed and delivered from outside of the body. 

  • Internal radiation therapy that we call brachytherapy. We deliver and direct this inside the body, up close to the cancer itself. 

  • Hormone therapy. This uses hormone blocking medications which stop selected hormones from growing. Some cancer cells need and use certain hormones to grow. Using medications, we block hormones, and cancer cells are not able to use them to grow and spread. 

  • Clinical trials. 

  • Or a combination of these. 

Enhancing your care (after treatment) 

After effective treatment, you will continue to see their specialist every three months. We use these visits to check your health. They may include tests such as pathology, imaging (scans and x-rays) and small biopsies. Your specialist will discuss the best follow-up plan for you. 

Endometrial carcinoma support 

We focus on all aspects of your health and wellbeing. Our uterine cancer experts will help support you. They will also guide you to the best information and managed care. 

Our specialist nurses can refer you to our:

Living with cancer 

We know how hard cancer and treatment can be. It will disrupt and change your lifestyle and that of your loved ones. During this time, it is common to struggle with ongoing concerns about cancer and therapy. There are many expert groups available to support you through this time, including: 

Patient and carer resources 

More information about endometrial carcinoma is available. This covers its treatment and support for patients and families. You can download copies of the following resources: 

Pages related to endometrial carcinoma