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Finding Out You Have Uterine Cancer

Finding Out You Have Uterine Cancer

You’ve just been told, “You have uterine cancer.” That’s scary to hear. However, knowledge is powerful and can help make a difference in how you handle your experience with cancer.

Every woman who has recently been told she has uterine cancer has questions--many of them are likely to be similar to yours: What is uterine cancer? Will I survive? Was my diagnosis correct? What are my treatment choices? How do I select the best doctor? Getting answers to these questions can help ease your fears.

We’re here to help. Our goal is to give you the information you need so that you can work with your health care team to make the best choices about your treatment. Our goal is to help you face cancer with confidence.

The first step is to learn more about uterine cancer and your diagnosis.

You should be treated by a gynecologic oncologist, a subspecialist in the diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic cancers. 

What is uterine cancer?

Let’s start by describing what cancer is. Our bodies are made up of tiny building blocks called cells. Normal cells grow and multiply when the body needs them. They die out when they are no longer needed or when they are damaged. This is how balance is maintained. However, some cells go through a series of changes called mutations. The “switch” that tells the cells to die is turned off. These cells become cancerous. Cancerous cells are also called malignant cells. Cancer occurs when cells multiply all the time and don’t die off. In most cancers, the malignant cells grow and form a lump called a tumor.

Cancer can develop in the uterus, which is also called the womb. The uterus is a pear-shaped organ. Its inner lining is called the endometrium. This lining thickens in response to hormone changes during the month and then sheds during menstruation--your period. Your uterus also holds the developing fetus when you’re pregnant. Cancer in the uterus may begin to form in the lining of the uterus or in the muscular tissue of the uterus: 

  • Endometrial carcinoma (also known as endometrial cancer). This is the most common form of uterine cancer. It starts in the cells that make up the inner lining.

  • Uterine sarcoma. This type of cancer begins to grow in the wall of the uterus. It is much less common.

The term uterine cancer may be used to refer to either endometrial carcinoma or uterine sarcoma. 

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