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Diagnosing Endometrial Cancer

If you have symptoms that suggest endometrial cancer, your gynecologist or primary care physician will take steps to find out what’s causing the problems. Usually, several steps are involved.

An examination is the first step. Your doctor will feel your abdomen from the outside and perform a pelvic exam to see if there is anything unusual they can feel or see. From there, additional tests may be requested, including:

  • CA-125 Blood Test

    CA-125 is a substance released into the bloodstream by many, but not all, endometrial and ovarian cancers. Higher levels of CA-125 can be a sign that cancer is present and additional testing is needed.

  • Ultrasound

    An ultrasound device uses sound waves that humans can’t hear. The sound waves make a pattern of echoes as they bounce off organs inside the pelvis. The echoes create a picture of your uterus and nearby tissues. The picture can show a uterine tumor. For a better view of the uterus, the device may be inserted into the vagina (transvaginal ultrasound).

  • Endometrial Biopsy

    The removal of tissue to look for cancer cells is a biopsy. A thin tube is inserted through the vagina into your uterus. Your doctor uses gentle scraping and suction to remove samples of tissue. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. In most cases, a biopsy is the only sure way to tell whether cancer is present. This test is typically very accurate for women who are at menopause.

  • Dilatation and Curettage

    If the initial biopsy doesn’t provide enough tissue for testing a procedure to remove tissue samples from the uterus's inner lining can be performed. The cervix is dilated, and a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) is inserted into the uterus to remove tissue. The tissue samples are checked under a microscope for signs of disease. This procedure is also called a D&C.

  • Molecular Testing of the Tumor

    Your doctor may recommend running laboratory tests on a tumor sample to identify specific genes, proteins, and other factors unique to the tumor. There is a genetic condition called hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) that could be the underlying cause of endometrial cancer. These tests will determine if genetic testing for this condition is necessary.

After diagnostic tests are done, your doctor will review the results with you. If the diagnosis is cancer, additional testing will be performed to determine if or how far cancer has spread. Learn about how oncologists determine endometrial cancer's extent (staging).

Uterine Cancer Care in the South Chicago Area

If abnormal results from testing have detected endometrial cancer, the gynecologic oncologists at Affiliated Oncologists consider your diagnosis and specific needs before recommending a treatment plan. Our cancer centers are located in the South Chicago suburbs, including Downers Grove and Oak Lawn, IL. We also provide second opinions on diagnosis and treatment plans for endometrial cancer.