How Is Endometrial Cancer Diagnosed?
Endometrial cancer can be diagnosed at any stage. If women experience any irregular vaginal bleeding, they should consult their physician immediately. Early-stage diagnosis is beneficial because it will improve the outcomes for most women.
If a primary care physician suspects endometrial cancer might be the cause of a patient’s symptoms, they will make a referral to a gynecologist or gynecologic oncologist. These specialists will use one or more of the following methods to diagnose endometrial cancer:
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Hysteroscopy: A physician may also insert a very small camera through the vagina and cervix to observe whether any abnormal tissue is present in the uterus.
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In collaboration with other specialists, a patient’s physician will likely order one or more diagnostic tests and review the results at a weekly Tumor Board meeting. This interdepartmental review process guides recommendations for treatment. In consultations with the patient and her primary care physician, the Cancer Care Center team plans the best course of treatment based on the type and stage of the patient’s cancer and her overall health.
Staging is the process of determining how extensive the cancer is. It is an important part of diagnosis because it is used to determine the most appropriate treatment options for patients. The stages of endometrial cancer range from Stage 0 to Stage IV.
Stages of Endometrial Cancer
- Stage 0 - Cancer is present only in the surface cells of the endometrium.
- Stage I - Cancer is present only in the uterus.
- Stage II - Cancer has spread to the connective tissue of the cervix but is still contained to the uterus.
- Stage III - Cancer has spread outside the uterus and cervix but is contained to the pelvis.
- Stage IV - Cancer has progressed beyond the pelvis.
(American Cancer Society 2015, National Cancer Institute 2010)