Uterine or Endometrial Cancer

Uterine cancer starts in the uterus. The uterus is also referred to as the womb.  The most common type of uterine cancer is also called endometrial cancer because it forms in the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. Uterine cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women in the United States and the most commonly diagnosed gynecologic cancer.

In 2008 (the most recent year numbers are available)—43,134 women in the United States were diagnosed with uterine cancer, which resulted in 7,675 deaths.

Risk actors and prevalence of uterine cancer in black women

There is no way to know for sure who will get uterine cancer. Some women get it without being at high risk. However, the following factors may increase a woman’s risk for uterine cancer:

  • Uterine cancer is more common in white women than black women.  However, medical research found that black women patients are significantly more likely than Caucasian patients to have advanced stages of the disease and more aggressive tumor types, even when they receive similar treatment regimens. Black women die at much higher rate than white women from uterine cancer.
  • Obesity is a major risk for developing uterine cancer as well as abnormal precancerous changes of the uterus.

Other risk factors include: 

  •     Taking estrogen by itself
  •     Diabetes
  •     Having had trouble getting pregnant
  •     Early onset of menstrual periods at a young age
  •     Fewer than five periods in a year at any time in your life before starting menopause
  •     A late menopause
  •     Family history of early onset colorectal cancer or other reproductive cancers


  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or postmenopausal bleeding—which occurs in 90% of endometrial cancer cases 
  • Pelvic pressure, a pelvic mass, or abnormal discharge
  • Difficulty and pain during urination
  • Painful intercourse

Uterine Cancer

Preventive Measures

Some uterine cancer can be prevented by:

  • Maintaining a normal weight
  • Diabetes prevention
  • Awareness of risk factors for this cancer
  • Avoid continual estrogen stimulation of the uterine lining, also called "unopposed estrogen."
  • Promptly see a health professional for any abnormal bleeding

It is important to know that the Pap test does not screen for uterine cancer. It only screens for cervical cancer.


  • The most common treatment for uterine cancer is a total hysterectomy in which the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and lymph nodes in which the tumor commonly spreads are all removed.
  • Other therapies include: radiation, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy.


U.S. Cancer Statistics Working GroupUnited States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2008 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report.Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services,

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2012. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 1-800-CDC-INFO or www.cdc.gov/cancer

National Cancer Institute: 1-800-4-CANCER or www.cancer.gov


Learn more by downloading the Inside Knowledge campaign'suterine cancer fact sheet



Medical Disclaimer

The information provided to our readers regarding these diseases is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  We strongly encourage our readers to use this information only as a preliminary resource, and we disclaim any liability for the decisions made by anyone based on this information.