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Endometrial Cancer: Early Detection

Endometrial Cancer: Early Detection

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Early detection means checking for a health problem before a person has symptoms. This can sometimes find diseases like cancer early, which can lead to early treatment. This may improve the chance that treatment will work better.

Types of screening tests for endometrial cancer

Screening tests are procedures to check for disease. If your healthcare provider thinks you are at higher than average risk, he or she can check for endometrial cancer in these ways: :

  • Endometrial sampling. Taking a sample of the cells from the lining of the uterus can be done in several ways. An endometrial biopsy uses a thin flexible tube that’s put through your vagina and cervix and into your uterus. Cells are than removed through this tube. A hysteroscopy lets your doctor see inside your uterus. It’s done with a small telescope-like tool. The tool is inserted through your cervix. Polyps or other abnormal tissues can also be removed. If more cells are needed, a procedure called a dilation and curettage (D&C) is done. A special tool is inserted through the opened (dilated) cervix. The lining of the uterus is removed. The sampled cells are checked under a microscope for cancer.

  • Transvaginal ultrasound. For this test, a probe is put into your vagina to create images of your uterus. The probe sends out sound waves that echo off the walls of your uterus. A computer translates these sound waves into an image on a screen. The inside of your uterus and changes in the thickness of the lining can be seen. An ultrasound can be used to see a biopsy is needed.

Who may need screening for endometrial cancer

Screening tests aren’t advised for women who are at average risk for the cancer. Your healthcare provider may advise screening in these cases: 

  • You have or may have a gene for hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC). You may have this gene if HNPCC runs in your family. Or you may have this gene if colon,  ovarian, or uterine cancers run in your family.

  • You have known risk factors and are going through menopause.

  • You have precancerous changes (hyperplasia) in the cells inside your uterus that may turn into cancer.

Talking with your healthcare provider

If you are at high risk for endometrial cancer, talk with your healthcare provider about an endometrial biopsy. He or she may advise you to have biopsies after menopause as well. 

If you are at risk for HNPCC, you should be offered an endometrial biopsy every year starting at age 35. This is the advice of the American Cancer Society.

See your healthcare provider if you have any abnormal vaginal bleeding.

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