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Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine


Fact sheet

What is the uterus?
What is uterine cancer?
How common is uterine cancer?
Who is at risk for uterine cancer?
How do you lower your risk of uterine cancer?
What are the screening tests for uterine cancer?
What are the symptoms of uterine cancer?
Where can I get more information?



What is the uterus?
The uterus (or womb) is part of the female reproductive system. It's about the size and shape of a pear and is located in the lower abdomen. When a woman is pregnant, the baby grows inside the uterus.

What is uterine cancer?
Uterine cancer occurs when the cells in uterus (womb) grow out of control. A group of abnormal cells together can form a malignant (cancerous) tumor. 


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How common is uterine cancer?
Over 38,000 American women are diagnosed with uterine cancer each year. To compare this with other cancers, click here.

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Who is at risk of getting uterine cancer?
Any women can get uterine cancer, but it usually strikes women over age 50 who have gone through menopause. The risk increases with age. Women with a family history of uterine cancer have a higher risk. Women who have had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) are at much lower risk.

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How do you lower your risk of uterine cancer?
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you have not gone through menopause, consider taking birth control pills. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits.
  • Avoid postmenopausal estrogen use; talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.
  • If you take Tamoxifen, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.
Click here for a list of things that affect uterine cancer.


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What is the screening test?
There is no good screening test to find uterine cancer in its early stages. If you're concerned about uterine cancer, talk to a doctor about your risk.

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What are the symptoms of uterine cancer?
In the early stages, uterine cancer may cause no symptoms at all. As the cancer grows, symptoms may include:
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Pain in the pelvic area
These symptoms are often caused by less serious conditions.  Only a doctor can know for sure. If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.


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For more information on uterine cancer (also called endometrial cancer), visit these web sites: Back to top