Diagnosis of uterine cancer
Uterine cancer shares symptoms with other reproductive disorders as well as menopause. For this reason, your doctor will likely first try to rule out uterine cancer using a variety of diagnostic tools. Your doctor’s approach will depend on the type of symptoms you have experienced.
Standard tools for uterine cancer diagnosis include:
- Pelvic exam: During an exam, your doctor will check your vagina, uterus, ovaries, and rectum to look for unusual growths or other symptoms. Your doctor may also do a Pap smear to look for evidence of cancer growth.
- Ultrasound: Using sound waves, an ultrasound provides a picture of your organs to help your doctor look for signs of cancer.
- CT scans and MRIs: These imaging scans provide a visual image of any tumors or other signs of possible malignancy (cancer).
- Biopsy: A uterine biopsy uses a small tube inserted through the vagina to take a small sample of tissue from the uterus.
- D&C (dilation and curettage): A D&C is another method used to sample tissue from the uterus. During a D&C, you will be under general anesthesia or sedation so that you won’t feel any pain. Your doctor will insert a thin tube through the cervix to remove a tissue sample. Since a D&C is typically more accurate than a biopsy, it is sometimes used to confirm a negative biopsy result.
The best treatment plan depends on your age, the stage of your cancer, its location, and your overall health. Your oncology specialist at Dignity Health will discuss your specific case and the best treatment plan for you.
For most uterine cancers, surgery to remove the cancer and reproductive organs is the primary treatment. Your doctor may also use radiation therapy or chemotherapy in tandem with or instead of surgery. Hormone therapy or targeted biologic therapy may be used in later stages.
As cancer research is ongoing, your doctor may recommend clinical trials for new treatments if you are eligible.
If you need uterine cancer treatment or are experiencing symptoms, we can help. We provide personalized treatment and support throughout the process.
Recovery following uterine cancer treatment varies depending on the stage of cancer, your age, the type of treatment required, and your overall health. The vast majority of women experience a full recovery and are considered to be in remission after treatment (cancer-free).
If you undergo surgery to remove part or all of your uterus, the average hospital stay is about five to seven days, and you can typically expect to return to your previous activities four to six weeks after the procedure. Minimally invasive procedures require shorter hospital stays (typically one to two days), and have shorter recovery times (two to three weeks).
As with all major operations, you may experience some discomfort or mild bleeding afterward. Your doctor will help you manage this and any other treatment side effects. Let your doctor or nurse know if you are in pain so they can adjust your medicines to make you as comfortable as possible. Do not wait until the pain is severe.
Your doctor will also help you create an at-home recovery plan once you are discharged from the hospital. This will include instructions for when to return to activities like swimming, sexual intercourse, and exercise, as well as how to keep the wound clean. If you undergo a hysterectomy, you will be in menopause following your surgery.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation are highly effective, but can also cause some side effects such as fatigue, loss of appetite, and hair loss. These symptoms are temporary and can often be prevented or reduced.
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.