Endometrial Cancer Detection and Diagnosis
There is no standardized screening test for endometrial cancer and pelvic exams and Pap smears do not detect the disease. However, they help rule out other conditions. Symptoms of endometrial cancer may include:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding, spotting or discharge
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Pain when urinating
- Unusual pelvic pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lump or mass in the abdomen that you can feel
- Pain during intercourse
Early Detection of Endometrial Cancer
See your doctor if you have any of the symptoms above. Women who are at high risk for developing endometrial cancer or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer should consider a yearly endometrial biopsy to check for endometrial cancer. A typical screening may include:
- Biopsy: a thin, flexible tube is inserted through your vagina into the uterus to remove a sample of cells from the lining of the uterus. The cells are then examined under a microscope for signs of cancerous changes.
- Transvaginal ultrasound: aspecially designed ultrasound probe is inserted into your vagina to detect abnormalities in your uterus.
Diagnostic equipment and surgical procedures may help detect and diagnose endometrial cancer:
- Hysteroscopy: a tiny viewing scope is inserted through your vagina and cervix to view the inside of the uterus.
- Dilation and curettage (D&C): amore extensive type of biopsy, D&C involves inserting an instrument through your vagina into the uterus where it scrapes away the inside lining of the uterus.
- Ultrasound: uses sound waves to view internal body structures and to examine blood flow in different areas of the body. It can be used to examine the reproductive organs including the uterus and measure the thickness of the uterine lining.
- Cystoscopy or proctoscopy: to check to see if cancer has spread to your urethra or bladder, a thin, lighted tube (cystoscope) is inserted through the urethra. Similarly, a proctoscope is inserted into the rectum to check for cancer there.
- Computed tomography scan (CT): combines multiple X-rays to provide three-dimensional clarity and show various types of tissue, including blood vessels. CT not only confirms the presence of a tumor, but can show its precise location, size and involvement with adjacent tissue.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): magnets and radio waves provide three-dimensional images of the body. Used to view biochemical changes in the body to detect cancerous tumors, particularly those that have spread outside the uterus. It may also be used to determine if a tumor is benign or malignant.
- Positron emission tomography (PET): aspecific dye injected into your vein highlights cancer cells growing anywhere in the body that can then be detected by a special camera.
- CA-125 test: this blood test looks for elevated levels of a substance that could indicate the presence of cancer.
- Other tests: chest X-rays, a special X-ray of the urinary system (intravenous pyelogram) and various blood tests are some of the other diagnostics that may be prescribed.