Cancer of the cells that line the uterus (called uterine or endometrial cancer) is often found at an early stage, when it can be treated. The chance of successful treatment is greater when women recognize symptoms and see their doctor right away.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of uterine cancer. Any vaginal bleeding that occurs after menopause should be checked out by your doctor. Menopause is defined as the absence of periods for one year.
About nine in 10 women diagnosed with uterine cancer report either irregular vaginal bleeding or vaginal bleeding after menopause. During the years before menopause, changing hormone levels can cause irregular periods, spotting and heavier bleeding. Most of these changes are normal. Still, it is important to see a doctor any time you have abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Tell your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Any vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Periods that are heavy or last longer than normal
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Non bloody vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Pain during sex
- Weight loss without trying
- Problems or discomfort with urination
These may be symptoms of cancer, but they may also be the result of less serious medical conditions. For example, these symptoms can be caused by benign tumors of the uterus (fibroids) and certain pelvic infections.
Your doctor will sort out what is causing your symptoms. Your job is to report symptoms as soon as you notice them. If they are due to uterine cancer, catching it an early stage improves the odds that it can be treated and cured.
Created on 11/16/1999
Updated on 09/22/2010
- National Cancer Institute. Cancer of the uterus.
- American Cancer Society. How is endometrial cancer diagnosed?
- Bakkum-Gamez JN, Gonzalez-Bosquet J, Laack NN, Mariani A, Dowdy SC. Current issues in the management of endometrial cancer. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2008;83(1):97-112.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Perimenopausal bleeding and bleeding after menopause.