About Uterine Cancer (Endometrial)

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Uterine cancer, or endometrial cancer, is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the endometrium. At UCLA, women with uterine cancer are provided comprehensive care by the Gynecologic Oncology Service, a program of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

What is Uterine Cancer?

Uterus DiagramThe endometrium is the lining of the uterus, a hollow and muscular organ in a woman’s pelvis. The uterus is where a fetus grows. In most nonpregnant women, the uterus is about three inches long. The lower, narrow end of the uterus is the cervix, which leads to the vagina.When uterine cancer spreads (metastasizes) outside the uterus, cancer cells are often found in nearby lymph nodes, nerves, or blood vessels. If the cancer has reached the lymph nodes, cancer cells may have spread to other lymph nodes and other organs, such as the lungs, liver and bones.

When cancer spreads from its original place to another part of the body, the new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the primary tumor. For example, if cancer of the uterus spreads to the lungs, the cancer cells in the lungs are actually uterine cancer cells. The disease is metastatic uterine cancer, not lung cancer. It is treated as uterine cancer, not lung cancer. (Doctors sometimes call the new tumor "distant" disease.)

Cancer of the endometrium is different from cancer of the muscle of the uterus, which is called sarcoma of the uterus. Cancer that begins in the cervix is also a different type of cancer.