Post-menopausal Uterine Cancer

The uterus

The uterus is part of a woman’s reproductive system.

It’s a hollow organ in the pelvis.


The uterus has three parts:
Top: The top (fundus) of your uterus is shaped like a dome. From the top of your uterus, the fallopian tubes extend to the ovaries.
Middle: The middle part of your uterus is the body (corpus). This is where a baby grows.
Bottom: The narrow, lower part of your uterus is the cervix. The cervix is a passageway to the vagina.

The wall of the uterus has two layers of tissue:
Inner layer: The inner layer (lining) of the uterus is the endometrium. In women of childbearing age, the lining grows and thickens each month to prepare for pregnancy. If a woman does not become pregnant, the thick, bloody lining flows out of the body. This flow is a menstrual period.
Outer layer: The outer layer of muscle tissue is the myometrium.

Cancer Cells

Cancer begins in cells, the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up the uterus and the other organs of the body. Normal cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When normal cells grow old or get damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. Sometimes, this process goes wrong. New cells form when the body doesn’t need them, and old or damaged cells don’t die as they should. The buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor.

Tumors in the uterus can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Benign tumors are not as harmful as malignant tumors:

Benign tumors (such as a fibroid, a polyp, or endometriosis):
◦are usually not a threat to life
◦can be treated or removed and usually don’t grow back
◦don’t invade the tissues around them
◦don’t spread to other parts of the body

Malignant growths:
◦may be a threat to life
◦usually can be removed but can grow back
◦can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs (such as the vagina)
◦can spread to other parts of the body


Cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the uterine tumor. They can travel through lymph vessels to nearby lymph nodes. Also, cancer cells can spread through the blood vessels to the lung, liver, bone, or brain. After spreading, cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues. See the Staging section for information about uterine cancer that has spread.

Endometrial Cancer Symptoms and Risk Factors

Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM, FACEP
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Read about risk factors, symptoms, and signs of uterine cancer (endometrial cancer).Endometrial cancer (uterine cancer) is the most common gynecologic cancer that occurs in the  United States; and arises from abnormal cells that develop within the inside  lining of the uterus. It occurs most often after menopause, but may also be  diagnosed before menopause.


The uterus is made up of two major structures, the myometrium (myo=muscle +  metrium=womb) and the endometrium, the inside lining of the uterus (endo=inner +  metrium=womb) where a fertilized egg implants to form the fetus.

Risk factors for developing endometrial cancer including the following:
  • Endometrial hyperplasia: excess numbers of cells within the endometrium.
  • Age: This cancer is usually found in women older than the age of 50.
  • Excess estrogen: Hormone therapy is one potential cause, as is obesity since estrogen is produced in the fatty tissue of the body.
  • Ethnicity: Caucasian women are at higher risk of endometrial cancer.
  • Tamoxifen (Nolvadex): Nolvadex is one of the medications used to treat breast cancer.

For more information

To learn more about  cancer of the uterus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
web site http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/knowledge or the National Cancer Institute web site http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/uterus.
You also can find out more about  cancer of uterus by contacting the Womenshealth.gov Call Center at 1-800-994-9662 or the following organizations:
National Cancer Institute, NIH, HHS
Phone number: 800-422-6237
Internet address: http://www.cancer.gov
Gynecologic Cancer Foundation
Phone: 800-444-4441
Internet Address: http://www.wcn.org/gcf
American Cancer Society
Phone: 800-ACS-2345
Internet Address: http://www.cancer.org
All material contained in this FAQ is free of copyright restrictions, and may be copied, reproduced, or duplicated without permission of the Office on Women’s Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. Citation of the source is appreciated.

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