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Signs of Uterine Cancer

written by: CoDayDreamer • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 9/26/2010

The earlier uterine cancer signs are detected the better. Learn what they are and know what tests are used to diagnose the disease. Knowing the signs could assist you and your doctor with discovering uterine cancer.

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    Benefits of Knowing the Signs

    Knowing what the signs of uterine cancer are can potentially save your life or the life of a loved one. Uterine cancer signs resemble and have the potential to be confused with other illnesses or disorders. Any concerns regarding signs and symptoms of this disease should be discussed with a medical practitioner for further examination. If uterine cancer is detected while in the earlier stages, there are more treatment options available than in the later stages.

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    Signs & Symptoms

    Signs and symptoms of uterine cancer include:

    • Urination problems. This typically presents as hesitancy or difficulty urinating. In addition to uterine cancer, difficulty urinating can also occur with various medications and after surgery.
    • Pain during intercourse. This symptom may also result from sexual intercourse with vaginal dryness or from infections such as chlamydia.
    • Atypical vaginal bleeding. This is normally bleeding outside of the normal menstrual cycle. Vaginal bleeding is often one of the first signs of uterine cancer. Although vaginal bleeding may be a sign for premenopausal women, it is more likely to occur to women that are postmenopausal.
    • Atypical discharge. Vaginal discharge that is or is not clear or has an odor may be a sign. The vagina does typically have a discharge. Atypical discharge would be discharge that is not normal for a woman. Atypical discharge also occurs in an infection such as a yeast infection.
    • Pain in the pelvic area. Pelvic pain may also be due to pelvic adhesions from a previous abdominal surgery such as a Cesarean section.
    • Low back pain. This is not a very common sign of uterine cancer. Low back pain can also accompany back injuries and arthritis.
    • Unintentional weight loss.
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    Tests for Uterine Cancer

    Since uterine cancer signs mimic so many other illnesses and diseases, a gynecologist will perform additional tests to verify if uterine cancer is present.

    Tests that may be performed include:

    • Pelvic examination. A pelvic examination will help reveal any physical variations in the reproductive system such as a mass. The examination can also reveal any visual abnormalities in the vaginal area and opening.
    • Pap smear. A Pap smear will not decide whether a patient has uterine cancer but will determine if there are abnormalities in the cells of the lining of the uterus. If there are abnormalities, further testing and examination of the reproductive system may be necessary.
    • Transvaginal ultrasound. The ultrasound will produce images which in turn allow a doctor to see tumors. A transvaginal ultrasound can be used to view the reproductive area including the uterus, bladder, vagina and fallopian tubes.
    • Biopsy. During the biopsy there is a small piece of tissue taken from the endometrium. This tissue is then examined in a laboratory setting for abnormal cells.

    Test results for uterine cancer will typically be positive, negative, false-positive, false-negative or inconclusive.

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    References

    Mayo Clinic: Endometrial cancer - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/endometrial-cancer/DS00306

    MedlinePlus: Uterine Cancer - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/uterinecancer.html