Uterine cancer, not to be
confused with cervical cancer, is a form of malignant tumor that usually occurs after menopause. It is the
most common gynecologic cancer, after breast cancer. The good news it has a good prognosis (please see
uterine cancer survival rate) because it is, in most cases, detected early.
The cancer affects
thousands of women every year in the US and has experienced a slight increase in recent years, probably
related to an aging population. In 2012, 49,154 women in the United States were diagnosed with the disease;
8,911 died from it. In the same year, there were an estimated 621,612 women living with uterine endometrial
cancer in the United States.
In 2014, more than 54,000
women were be diagnosed with uterine endometrial cancer, which caused the death of more than 10,000. It
estimated 54,870 women will be diagnosed with the cancer by the end of this year (2015), leading to 10,170 deaths,
which represents 1.7% of all cancer deaths.
Anatomy of the
The uterus is the
pear-shaped female organ in which develops the fetus during pregnancy. It is located in the pelvis, between
the bladder and rectum. Outside of pregnancy, the uterus is small: it measures about 7.6 cm (3 in.) long, 4.5
cm broad (side to side) and 3.0 cm thick (anteroposterior). The main part, called body of the uterus, is
extended by two tubes; the lower part of the uterus, cervix, which opens into the vagina.
The muscular wall of the
uterus surrounds a cavity (uterine cavity) which is lined with a mucous membrane called endometrium. From
puberty to menopause, the endometrium goes through periodic transformations under the influence of hormones
produced by the ovaries. Its surface layer is removed during menstruation. The mucosal cells are then removed
via blood flow.
The cancer develops when
certain cells start reproducing excessively, defying the natural programmed cell-death (apoptosis) process.
The disorder can affect different types of tissue, thus, different types of malignant tumors can develop in
the uterus. According to their starting point in the different anatomical areas of the body, uterine cancers
are grouped into two main categories: cervical cancer and endometrial cancer. In the latter case, the tumor
starts in the cells lining the lower, narrow part of the uterus (cervix) which connects the uterus to the
About 95% of cervical
cancers are cancers of the endometrium. The remaining 5% are tumors of connective or other nonepithelial
tissue called sarcomas. In general, sarcomas are more aggressive and spread faster; therefore, early therapy
is vital – please see uterine cancer treatment for additional information.
From the very sign or
symptoms indicating the disease, medical attention becomes seriously important. Please see the uterine cancer
symptoms section for techniques to detect the warning signs of the tumor earliest possible. When diagnosed
and treated early, uterine cancer has a survival rate of over 81.7%. In fact, this figure is even higher if
the cancer is detected very early and the patience lives a healthy lifestyle.
Uterine Cancer Statistics