- Bleeding after menopause (defined as one year without your period)
- Bleeding, heavier than usual, during your period
- Spotting between periods
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain during urination or blood in urine
Keep in mind that these symptoms can also indicate conditions other than uterine cancer. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated promptly.
Diagnostic Tests for Uterine Cancer
If you are experiencing symptoms of uterine cancer, your doctor will first ask you some questions and do a physical exam to look for any changes in the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder or rectum.
If your doctor suspects uterine cancer, they may recommend one of the following tests.
- A biopsy involves a very thin, flexible tube that is inserted into the uterus through the cervix. Your doctor will remove a small amount of endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) through the tube so a pathologist can examine the cells for cancer.
- Transvaginal ultrasound uses an ultrasound wand that is inserted into the vagina and aimed at the uterus to obtain detailed images. If the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) appears unusually thick or other signs of a tumor are present, your doctor may recommend a biopsy.
- Hysteroscopy involves a tiny telescope that your doctor inserts into the uterus through the cervix. The uterus is then filled with salt water (saline). This lets your doctor see and biopsy anything that appears abnormal.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to create cross-sectional pictures that can show any abnormalities or tumors. Sometimes a contrast medium (a special dye) is injected into a vein to provide better detail.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and strong magnets instead of X-rays to create images. An MRI scan can help your doctor tell if a uterine tumor appears cancerous, but a biopsy is the only way to tell for sure.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan involves radioactive glucose (sugar) that is first injected into a vein. Because cancer cells use up glucose at a higher rate than normal tissues, the radioactivity will tend to concentrate in the cancer, and a scanner then checks for radioactive deposits. This test can be helpful for spotting small masses of cancer cells and may also help your doctor tell if a tumor is benign or malignant.